Here I was, soaking up the Geneva motor show atmosphere from my laptop in the UK, and eager to see and hear more of the Alfa Romeo 4C.
This is a car that, in principle, appeals massively to me as something that might offer the looks of the 8C (a car I’ve always loved the looks of) in a more attainable package.
Now, provided they lose some of the chintz of the show car the styling is spot on I reckon. But then I read that the company’s DNA system would feature and all the excitement disappeared. I have not yet met anyone – journalist or not - that likes it. I get the idea that it is intended to offer the best range of comfort and sportiness. But it doesn’t, or certainly not on any of the current Fiat Group cars that get it.
Regardless of which Fiat, Alfa or Abarth it is installed in, ‘Dynamic’ is the only option because anything else apparently removes any role that the throttle has in controlling the engine. And why should soggy throttle response equate to more comfortable urban dynamics anyway? The AA responds faster than the throttle in a 1.6 JTDm Alfa Mito in ‘Normal’ mode.
I’d like to clarify at this point that I’m not a purist about the role of electronics in modern cars. I think that, though there is and I hope always will be, a place for mechanical purity in enthusiast machinery, I also think it’s about time we got over the nostalgia and accepted that microchips are an integral part of today’s cars and not a bad one at that. The electrical trickery in the Ferrari 458 and Nissan GT-R should be applauded for being as much of an achievement as any of the more tangible delights of the grease and metal that makes up the world’s greatest engines.
Anyway, my point is this. I like Alfa Romeos a lot; if I don’t dwell on the DNA system I can see that there is great merit to the engines, styling and brand in general. More importantly the 4C looks like a car that could really strike a chord with enthusiasts and that could prove that Alfa can still make a really good sports car. One that is simply fun, classy and somewhere significantly south of a Maserati’s price tag.
The 4C is rear-wheel drive, mid-engined sports-coupe. It doesn’t need a ‘Normal’ mode, and if it does have a normal mode it should be ‘Normal’ in an invigorating sports car-like way, and ‘Dynamic’ should be seat-of-your pants thrilling. I sincerely hope that Alfa comes to its senses and loses the DNA system altogether or gives it a ground-up rethink before it ruins what promises to be one of the most exciting cars it has produced in years.