MSRP
$67,150
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2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.1

The 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C certainly delivers on the performance front. While many competitors have more powerful engines, the 4C has such a low curb weight. That means this Alfa accelerates like greased lightning, and it’s a class leader in fuel economy. The 4C handles extremely well too, though a stiff ride limits its comfort on regular streets.

  • Performance is the primary mission of the 2018 Alfa Romeo 4C, especially when equipped with the Track package and high-performance tires. As such, this 4C is at or near the front of the pack for acceleration, braking, steering and handling. Everyday drivability suffers for the same reasons, though." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • With its small size and 237-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, you'd think the 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C would be outgunned by competitors like the BMW Z4, Porsche 718 Cayman and Chevrolet Corvette. You'd be wrong. While small, it's mighty, the powerful engine motivating the flyweight chassis as quickly as the Corvette, and with handling that will make you feel like a hero...if you're good. The downside? This is a one-trick pony, albeit one with a very good trick. Its punishing road manners away from the racetrack include all kinds of noise combined with a stiff suspension. The steering offers no power assist of any kind, which can make parking a hassle. But on the track -- or your favorite mountain road -- there's nothing else quite like it." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • 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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The 4C features a mid-mounted, turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Those may seem like low totals, but keep in mind that this car is extremely light, and it can sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. There's a hint of turbo lag, but the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission provides timely shifts. You can also shift through the gears yourself using the standard paddle shifters.

The other benefit of having a smaller engine and less horsepower than most rivals is that the 4C is a class leader in fuel economy. It earns 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 (2018)
  • "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. … In sportier modes, [the transmission] … will automatically downshift and match revs. It's really good." -- 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 4C aims to create a kind of driving nirvana where the driver, the car, and the road become one with each other. And it largely succeeds from a performance standpoint. It comes with Brembo brakes, along with four selectable modes (Natural, All-Weather, Dynamic, and Race) to alter driving dynamics. It also lacks many of the modern systems that dull a car's connection to the road, including power steering.

This car delivers outstanding road grip, feel, and of body control, making it more than a match for any winding road. The downside of all of this is that the 4C makes a relatively lousy daily driver. Its stiff suspension transmits a lot of road imperfections straight into the cabin, and your arms might get tired on longer drives. Like many traditional sports cars, the 4C is rear-wheel drive.

  • The Alfa Romeo 4C is the automotive equivalent of a surgeon's scalpel. As a scalpel is the perfect tool in the hands of a skilled surgeon, a good driver can feel great behind the wheel of this Italian performance car. The steering is intentionally unassisted so it can communicate every inch of road. And so it does… 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
  • "A Dynamic-mode stability control, lightweight body and chassis construction, mid-engine layout, sticky tires, and race-carlike steering and suspension provide uniquely dynamic handling qualities that few cars, even exotics, can match." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • The 4C is beautifully balanced and while the ride quality is by no means plush, neither will it pound your spine into submission. Like the steering, brakes and thrust, it simply communicates what is happening without a filter." -- Forbes (2016)
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2019 Alfa Romeo 4C

MSRP: $67,150

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