Everyone knows that Alfa urgently needs to sell more cars and has been having tough times sorting the mid-sized Giulia on which its much-ballyhooed return to the US market squarely depends. The 4C isn’t ever going to sell more than 3500 units in total per year, so why does it matter? Best way to find out is to start the engine and get driving.
By the time you’re installed behind the wheel, you’ll know that this is a Lotus Exige-sized coupé with a heavily revised 1750 turbo engine – now with a 22kg lighter alloy block – located transversely behind you and driving through a six-speed paddle-shift gearbox (no stick shift is contemplated).
The whole thing rides on an independently suspended carbonfibre chassis that weighs just 65kg and is handmade by artisans in Naples, Italy. Ready to go, a 4C weights 960kg at the kerb and costs £45,000, splitting the difference between the basic Cayman and Boxster Porsches.
People insist on comparing the car with a Porsche, but a quick scan around the cabin soon shows big differences. This is a sparse interior, with the bare essentials required for comfort. There’s a race car feel. The minimal leather pull handles on the doors remind you powerfully of other Italian lightweights.
You can even ask Alfa to leave out the audio system and air-con if your 4C is intended for track-day use, but don’t expect a refund. Fire the engine and blip it and the rasp confirms that this is no drive-to-work all-rounder. You can drive to work, of course, but your 4C will always be happier away from the grind of life.