By Patrick Rall
Ever since Fiat SpA took hold of the reins for the Chrysler Group, there have been Mopar lovers who questioned the partnership between Chrysler and Fiat but with the introduction of the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C – Mopar lovers should embrace the involvement between their favorite American automaker and Italy’s largest automaker. While the Fiat 500 might not be for everyone – even in the incredibly fun-to-drive Abarth form – no Mopar lovers should gripe about any connection between the Chrysler Group and the new Alfa sports coupe.
Why do I think this? Well, it is because I got a chance to drive the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C on an autocross course last week and I was 100% blown away. The 4C is one of the most incredible sports cars I have ever driven and while it is a whole different beast than the Viper – I would go so far as to say that the new Alfa offers almost comparable driving fun to the mighty V10 Viper.
On paper, it isn’t hard to see why American performance car lovers might question the high performance capabilities of the Alfa Romeo 4C. After all, with only 237 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque, the 4C is substantially less powerful than the new V6 powered Chrysler 200 sedan but the new Alfa presents one of those situations where the raw power numbers only play a very small part.
The more critical figure is the weight and with a curb weight of just over 2,100 pounds – the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is one of the lightest weight full body cars sold in America. That incredibly low curb weight affords the 4C a power to weight ratio that puts it well within the realm of some awesome performance cars so even though it “only has 237 horsepower”, it is able to offer performance like few other cars sold in America in terms of both handling and pure acceleration.
With all of that in mind, I expected that the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C would be pretty quick when I took to the test track at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving Grounds but as soon as I got out of the gate, I was completely blown away at how quickly the 4C accelerates. The car was set to dynamic mode and I was shifting the twin clutch transmission by means of the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. I eased away from the starting line through a short turn before hitting the first short straight and when I put the hammer down on that straightaway, the new Alfa quickly shoved me deep into the race inspired driver’s seat. With the powerful turbocharged engine mounted just behind the driver’s seat, you can hear the turbocharger spool up but there is really no lag of any kind. As soon as you hit the throttle, the 4C puts all of that power to the wheels in a serious hurry and it does so without any spinning of the rear tires.
When I got to the first hard turn, I barely had to slow down to keep the Alfa Romeo 4C inside of the cones and even as I headed into the first tight slalom, the 4C ripped through the turns with the greatest of ease. Over the course of the next minute or so, I carved my way around the autocross course and even on the longest, highest speed turns, I was able to continually throttle down and build speed with the new Alfa. I totally expected this small, lightweight Italian sports car to zip through the turns but the Alfa really shines when you enter the straights as this miniscule turbocharged 4-cylinder engine provides enough power to make the 4C feel incredibly fast. Keep in mind, I took the Alfa through this course after having become familiar with the layout in the SRT Viper GTS, yet I was still truly blown away by how well this car handled the turns and accelerated out of them.
The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C handles beautifully – just how you would expect an Italian sports car to handle – and it does so while drawing a generous amount of power from the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that sounds better than any 4-cylinder engine that I’ve heard in stock form. While the likes of the SRT Viper with its massive V10 engine would likely have a big advantage on longer, higher speed runs, the new 4C offers supercar like performance in a sleek, compact package.
Sure, the new Alfa Romeo 4C doesn’t have the monster power of many high performance sports cars sold in America and honestly, it has an aesthetic design that is truly unique to the Alfa brand. Those two factors might turn away some prospective buyers looking to drop $60k on a new sports car but in spending a few minutes behind the wheel of this remarkable new turbocharged coupe – I can safely say that this is a car that anyone who truly loves driving will look forward to climbing into every single day.
While some diehard Chrysler fans and American performance car lovers alike might scoff at the suggestion that the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is a high quality sports car, you only need to spend a few minutes driving it to know that the Chrysler Group should be very proud to have this compact beast in its corporate lineup. It might not look or sound like many other performance cars sold in America, but it packs all of the necessary items to make it one of the most exciting cars that I have ever driven.
Check out my video below showing the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C in action on the autocross testing track and make sure that you have your speakers cranked up so that you can enjoy the aural delights that roar from the rear of this spunky little high performance coupe.