After a seemingly endless wait, Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, confirmed Alfa Romeo is finally ready to make its return to the U.S. market. And today we’re getting a first look at the mid-engine sports car that will blaze the path for the Italian brand.
The production version of the new Alfa Romeo two-seater will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month and should be screeching into U.S. showrooms before the end of the year, the maker confirms.
The basic design is quite similar to the concept model Alfa revealed during the Swiss show two years ago, winning a number of kudos including the Design Award from influential German magazine AutoBild. More recently, Britain’s What Car? Has declared it the Most Exciting Car of 2013.
But a number of subtle tweaks have been made to the design to improve both performance and fuel efficiency. More notably, the engine has been tuned to deliver the distinctly Italian feel and sound that Marchionne felt was critical to the 4C’s ultimate success.
The name itself is a paean to Alfa’s past glories, specifically to the 1930s and ‘40s when models like the Alfa Romeo 6C and 8C were strong contenders both on road and track.
(For more on Alfa Romeo’s planned return, Click Here.)
The 4, more specifically, references the new 1.75-liter all-aluminum turbo inline-four engine that will power the compact supercar. While Alfa isn’t releasing specific power or performance numbers it suggests the weight-to-power ration will come in under 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) per horsepower.
Considering the chassis will be made entirely of carbon fiber while there will also be extensive use of aluminum elsewhere, that suggests an extremely light weight which, in turn, might mean something on the order of 250-plus horsepower.
That engine will be paired to an Alfa TCT twin-clutch automatic which can be operated in manual mode using paddle shifters.
The two-seater will measure less than four meters, or about 13 feet, nose-to-tail, 200 centimeters in width and 118 cm in height. The wheelbase will be less than 2.4 meters, or about 93 inches.
Alfa notes that the carbon fiber chassis is just one of the technologies it has borrowed from the motor sports world. The 4C also will feature a “DNA” selector that will allow a driver to shift to Race mode. That is likely to translate into more aggressive throttle response and a reduced role for the Alfa Romeo 4C’s traction control and electronic stability control systems. A less aggressive Dynamic mode, along with Normal and All-Weather modes, will be the other options.
The aerodynamic tuning of the vehicle will reportedly deliver significant downforce to maintain grip even at high speeds, Alfa claims.
The three advanced images provided by the Italian maker don’t reveal the interior, but a release suggests, “The elemental design and essential materials also distinguish the interior, which is all designed and built for maximum driving satisfaction. Specifically, the carbon fibre in the interior immediately stands out, used to make the central cell, which has been left in full view to enhance the sense of uniqueness, of technology and light weight. “
It’s been more than two decades since Alfa had a serious presence in the U.S. market. It has made several half-hearted attempts to return over the years, pairing at various points with the “old,” pre-bankruptcy Chrysler and even with General Motors. The most recent effort saw the limited sale of the higher-end 8C supercar.
This time, Marchionne promises a full-on drive to re-establish the Alfa Romeo brand. And the 4C is expected to be followed by at least three other entries during the next several years.
(Alfa Romeo partners with Mazda to develop new, affordable sports car. One version will serve as replacement for Mazda Miata. Click Here for the full story.)
Whether the Alfa 4C will be the car the Italian marque needs to set off that revival remains to be seen, but the looks will certainly turn heads and gain it plenty of attention.