Teased by the Alfa Romeo 4C in the house of Maserati.[Not a valid template]
On one of the production lines of the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy, sits something that is most definitely not a Maserati. Its diminutive, perfect proportions and mid-engined platform single this out as a mini supercar and it is simply stunning in the flesh/tin/carbon/whatever. Now, it has been said that the Alfa Romeo 4C looks like a supermodel with an eye infection. I am cool with that. I am not the romantic type that wants to stare lovingly into its eyes. I want to…. well, follow the analogy to its natural conclusion. Also, eyes that resemble pomegranates can be hidden behind Gucci shades when we go out in public.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and perhaps – when it comes to the Alfa Romeo 4C – I am suffering from myopia. Beauty, however, is also only skin deep and this little Alfa has managed to tickle my automotive fancy since day one. The concept is something almost universally forgotten in mainstream sportscar production and that is the Colin Chapman philosophy: build them light.
The modern sportscar is positively obese and supercars are encroaching on the two-ton mark with their combination of massive engines and hybrid gubbins. And, without computer wizardry, you probably wouldn’t make it around the first corner in any of them. The sheer size of these behemoths mean that going for a stage down anything but a highway just isn’t on the cards. Awesome, fast, big, sexy, flashy and totally technology incredible in every way they might be, but are they enjoyable? Are they usable? Are they rewarding to drive? I will leave that as an open debate.
The 4C is an important car for Alfa Romeo. It is the first product – in the newly shaken-up and reactivated marque – that may possibly have Cross and Snake once again embraced by diehard Alfisti. It will be the first time that our State-side brethren will have Alfa availability since 1995. It is the first real Alfa Romeo sportscar since…since…actually, just when was the last one? The 4C also has the potential to become the revolutionary vanguard of a much-needed polar shift within the automotive world.
Alfa Romeo is building the 4C with the same philosophy and materials normally associated with unobtainable supercars. However, the focus is not on breaking records by being 0.01 seconds quicker to 100kph, maxing out on a private runway 3kph faster than a Veyron or being so prohibitively expensive that most customers will be investors who will purchase said folly and store it in a bubble. The 4C focus is on lightness, agility and performance and that means something better than any bragging rights about ‘on paper’ performance; driver enjoyment. This is something that is curiously absent in the design philosophy of the modern supercar.
The success of the 4C could also shake up the industry and wake up sleeping giants. Toyota could (theoretically) produce a fourth generation MR2 using materials and techniques perfected for the LFA. With the big players in the supercar kingdom continually focused on reaching the moon – and charging the earth for the privilege of getting there – a new breed of (relatively) inexpensive and ultimately usable supercars could step in and steal their thunder.
So, are you still worried that the Alfa Romeo 4C has funny looking eyes? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.