Hubert Burda Media

O Romeo, Romeo

The Alfa Romeo 4C, the automaker’s much-anticipated sports car, was finally launched this year. We take it for a joyride.

I’m at the wheel of a cement truck — no, I don’t mean I’m sitting behind the steering wheel. That’s how low to the ground I am while driving in this sleek new road machine. But no, I’m not in one of those exotic supercars we’ve grown so fond of. I’m actually sitting in the latest sports car to hit the local car market by a relatively unlikely marque.

This car manufacturer in question is Alfa Romeo, and the supercar-like road demon is the 4C. Not known for making such speedsters, this is the brand’s first foray into the luxury sports car arena since its founding in the early 1900s. According to Melvin Goh, CEO of EuroSports Global (distributor of Alfa Romeos in Singapore), the 4C is a “truly remarkable coupe” that is “purely performance”. Which is why when Alfa first announced its plans to build this model, the industry waited to see how it would fare. Finally released in January at the Singapore Motorshow 2015, it certainly garnered much interest with three units sold within the month.

It’s not hard to see why the 4C is a hit. Stylish yet robust, the coupe is designed to deliver a pure driving experience in a fully carbon chassis technology and rear-wheel drive. Additionally, it sports an impressively lightweight body at less than 900kg, coupled with a high-performance 1.8 turbo engine, that “allows the driver to experience real-time racing performance,” says Goh.

Inside, the seating capacity is two, with the said engine fitted behind the seats. And exactly how powerful is it? The 1.7-L car roars gloriously to complete the century sprint in a mere 4.5 seconds. Goh believes this car is one everyone is looking forward to because of its advanced driving technology. “When you measure a sports car, it’s either about the shape or the technology — and here you have a 1.8 turbocharged 240-horsepower engine.”

Certainly, it drives unlike other Alfas because it is engineered for the track, making this hunk of metal a great sports car for a driver’s first step into the supercar arena. Zipping through expressway traffic with the 4C is surely a breezy affair. And since it is so light, compact and responsive, taking the corners let me experience all the exhilarating G-force it can muster. Yet, I still feel safe in this sturdy piece of work due to its very low centre of gravity that’s reminiscent of race cars.

For now, the 4C is in a category of its own. It doesn’t quite fit in with the Lamborghinis and McLarens with full carbon chassis technology; neither does it rival luxury sports cars the likes of Lotus or Porsche which are not made fully of carbon.

But as fun as it is to take the 4C around town, it isn’t the most practical car there is. Its TFT screen lags behind many with its rather basic functions, which doesn’t come equipped with an in-built navigation system. Its boot barely has sufficient room for a quick grocery run; the car does not even have a glove box compartment. In fact, there isn’t much storage space at all. It took me far longer than necessary to decide where to rest my iPhone comfortably within reach.

But to heck with that, because the Alfa Romeo 4C is a ride that petrol heads can easily fall in love with. And to up its appeal, the automaker has already revealed the 4C Spider, the convertible version of the coupe, at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show that is sure to excite fans just as much. The wait is on.

Alfa Romeo 4C 1.8 Turbo TCT

Engine: 1,750cc four-cylinder turbocharged
Transmission: Six-speed Alfa TCT with dual dry clutch, paddle controls and launch control
Max power: 177kW @ 6,000rpm
Max Torque: 350Nm @ 2,200-4,250rpm
Max speed: 258kph
Acceleration: 0-100kph in 4.5 seconds
Fuel consumption: 9.8L per 100km
CO2 emission: 157g/km
Kerb weight: 895kgw