The 4C carries a 1.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that develops 237 horsepower, paired with a six-speed automated manual transmission with paddle shifters. That might not seem like a lot of muscle for a sports car, but the 4C is a showcase of weight-saving materials. It has a carbon-fiber tub, like a Formula 1 car, and weighs just under 2,500 pounds, or about 100 pounds more than a Mazda Miata. Aided by electronic launch control, the 4C can get from zero to 60 mph in as little as 4.2 seconds.
Other performance credentials include Brembo brakes, a race-tuned suspension, and 17-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels with high-performance tires. Alfa Romeo's standard "DNA" driving mode selector – Dynamic for performance driving, Natural for a balanced default, and Advanced Efficiency for, um, efficiency – includes a Race mode that deactivates the stability and traction control systems, giving the driver total control at the track. For unadulterated road feel, the 4C uses a manual steering setup.
The $57,495 base price (including a lofty $1,595 destination charge) comes with a four-speaker sound system, cloth sports seats, and Bluetooth phone and audio. Leather seats with matching interior trim are available for $1,500. The optional racing seats ($2,000) come upholstered in a mix of leather and microfiber. Buyers can also specify a $2,000 Carbon Fiber Trim Package for the interior. The optional Convenience Package ($1,400) outfits the 4C with rear parking sensors, cruise control, and an anti-theft system. The standard sound system can be upgraded to a seven-speaker Alpine unit for $900.
The Track Package provides an even firmer suspension, a rear spoiler, and carbon fiber accents throughout for $2,300. The optional center-mounted Akrapovic exhaust system ($3,000) offers a sporty rumble and active valves that adjust to the selected driving mode. Unlike last year's optional sport exhaust, the Akrapovic system quiets down under normal driving conditions.
Individual options include a carbon fiber roof ($2,500), bixenon headlights ($1,000), and 18/19-inch wheels in alternate designs ($1,800-$2,500). Painted brake calipers in the buyer's choice of color are available for $300.
The Convenience Package is a must-have for buyers who intend to drive their 4C on a daily basis. Those same buyers should avoid the Track Package, which stiffens the suspension to an uncomfortable degree.
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