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2020 Alfa Romeo 4C Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.5

The 2020 Alfa Romeo 4C is a midengine sports car that accelerates briskly, and it slices around turns confidently with minimal body roll. The trade-off for this surefooted handling is a firm and uncomfortable ride on broken pavement, as well as heavy steering.

  • "Where it shines is in its lightweight chassis, sticky performance tires and stiff suspension, which allow it to take corners at high speeds and change direction almost telepathically. But its skittishness over bumps in the road can sap confidence. When driven in its sweet spot, the 4C is rewarding and feels like a modern classic. It's fun, but it's a handful, and we'd pick almost anything else for a daily driver." -- Edmunds
  • "On paper the Alfa's turbocharged 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine's 237 horsepower isn't much, but it's only working against roughly 2,500 pounds. That equates to a genuinely fast car - the Alfa Romeo 4C's 0-60-mph time is logged at 4.1 seconds - with only a hint of turbo lag. … Yet, like a scalpel cutting vegetables, the 4C is sorely out of its element once you've left the racetrack. The stiff suspension pounds over bumps, the engine screams constantly, the exhaust barks like a neighborhood dog, and at low speed that unassisted steering feels like pulling your arms out of tar. This is not a car for commuting or cruising." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "The reason buyers will love the 4C Spider is its purity. The car is so basic that it doesn't even have power steering, which is a blessing and a curse. The steering is very stiff from a stop, firm but rock steady at speed and absolutely connected to the road. Enthusiasts will love the quick responses and feedback, but most drivers will find the steering too tiring for everyday use." -- Autotrader (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 4C has a 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This engine may not seem that powerful, but keep in mind that the 4C is very lightweight. As a result, it can rocket the 4C up to 60 mph in just over four seconds, and that speed builds as the dual-clutch automatic transmission rifles through its six gears.

This powertrain is mostly smooth and enjoyable, albeit quite loud. It also helps achieve near class-leading fuel economy. The 4C returns 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

  • "Turbocharging a small engine sometimes produces surging acceleration, but not in the 4C. The four-cylinder has excellent urban manners along with Corvette-challenging speed." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "With 237 horsepower, it's actually out-powered by any number of family sedans, but they don't deliver power like this. Floor the throttle and hear the turbo spool up, and once past the short lag period, hang on as the 4C springs forward with extreme urgency. It's not the most refined drivetrain, but it sure is fun." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "This tiny engine has lots of willpower, with more torque on tap at low rpm than expected. It also makes cool sounds, letting out a raspy note and sucking in air with a hiss during acceleration while emitting a satisfactory sound between shifts. The only flaw is noticeable turbo lag. Get the revs up, however, and this little mill is downright quick, vaulting the car from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds on its way to a top speed of 160 mph." -- Autotrader (2016)

Handling and Braking

The rear-wheel-drive 4C is an exciting car to pilot on twisting mountain roads or around a racetrack. It changes direction quickly and darts around turns with almost no body lean. The steering feels hefty and responsive at speed, and the brakes provide confident stopping power.

The downside is that the 4C is fairly uncomfortable to drive on imperfect road surfaces. Its firm suspension jitters and jolts over bumps and dips. The steering wheel requires a lot of muscle to turn at low speeds, which can be tiring. Power steering is not available.

  • "If you plan to drive at the track in race events, the 4C is great. Its stiffly sprung suspension follows the road's contours with laser-like precision, while its supportive bucket seats and air conditioning are luxuries for aficionados. But the 4C extracts a price for performance. The shock from hard-edge bumps, such as those from grates and potholes, are readily transmitted into the cabin, and you'll feel it through the thin padding of the seats." -- Edmunds
  • "The 4C practically anticipates road challenges, and its suspension is perfectly tuned for carving up a twisty back road or attacking apexes on a track. The trade-off for its natural athleticism is a truly punishing ride over all but the smoothest road surfaces." -- Car and Driver
  • "The stiff suspension and noisy interior are bad enough, but the standard steering setup offers no power assist. While this design is ideal for performing maneuvers at high speeds, it requires plentiful bicep strength when parallel-parking or attempting a low-speed U-turn." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
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2020 Alfa Romeo 4C

MSRP: $67,150

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