I am a bit of a car nut. Unlike many other products, cars are designer’s dream – something as “same, same, but different”. Alfa Romeo brand was very popular several decades ago but somehow lost its appeal and faded away from watchful eyes of car enthusiasts. Now, it seems to be coming back and it is more than welcome.
Italian brands might not be as robust and reliable as those made in Germany and Japan but when it comes to design then nobody plays in their league. After all, many German and Japanese great looking cars were designed by one of world famous Italian car design agencies. Sometimes I feel that Italian designers think about making love when designing new cars. Curves of a perfect body, pleasant for eye …
What is your favourite car?
First Australian drive
The Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the most hyped cars of 2014. And while the first right-hand-drive models aren’t due on Australian roads until the third or fourth quarter of this year, CarAdvice got its first local taste of the new Italian sports car in left-hand-drive guise at Melbourne’s own Avalon Airport.
Driving one of two left-hand-drive Alfa Romeo 4Cs – in the country thanks to their role as safety cars for the World Superbikes – the first, but albeit brief, impressions are good. And with the aid of some simple maths, it’s easy to understand why.
The rear-wheel-drive 4C combines an 895kg carbonfibre-infused body with a 177kW/350Nm turbocharged 1.75-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Though its powerplant is borrowed from the currently available Giulietta QV – with power and torque upped by 3kW and 10Nm – the Alfa Romeo 4C is exclusively fitted with a six-speed paddle-shifted dual-clutch transmission.
In an effort to save weight, it also has an entirely mechanical steering system, with no electronic or hydraulic assistance at all, and eschews push-button start, infotainment touchscreen and glovebox.
Noticeable when sliding between cones inside a slippery airport hanger, a limited-slip rear differential is also missing, with the so-called ‘baby Ferrari’ making do with a mechanical item instead.
Switching from front-end push when hurried into a corner to rear-end wheelspin when the right foot is flexed, our test car’s 17-inch front and 18-inch rear Pirelli P Zero tyres were never given a real-world test bed to prove their potential, but on tarmac things will surely be significantly more grippy (as we found when testing the 4C overseas earlier this year).
Similarly, that experience suggests the 305mm front and 292mm rear Brembo brakes will feel stronger than they did on the hangar’s surface, though pedal feel is definitely progressive.
Fitted with Alfa Romeo’s familiar selectable driving mode system dubbed DNA (Dynamic, Neutral and All-weather), we went with our own ‘Hanger’ setting, otherwise known as ‘Race’ mode, for hanging the tail out over our limited number of laps. An additional option on the 4C, Race mode turns off all electronic aids with the exception of ABS.
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