Alfa 4C gains weight for Oz
Alfa Romeo's 4C sports car will arrive Down Under 130kg heavier than its European counterpart. That's the official line from Fiat Chrysler Australia despite assurances last year that the car would not bulk up in its transformation to an ADR-complied variant.
Alas, we can't tell you precisely why...
Back in June 2014, we reported that the Australian-spec model would be closely aligned with European specifications and would forego the added weight of cars built to stricter crash safety standards for the USA. This is now not exactly the case – the Aussie spec 4C will weigh in at 1025kg – 25kg short of the US versions but 130 more than European cars.
Alfa Romeo Australia says the mass increase is not related to local crash test requirements. Indeed, when the sports car was approved by the federal government in April last year it was officially listed as weighing 972kg – roughly 80kg more than the published European figure. Then some time between April and October, the Australian government's Road Vehicle Descriptor (RVD) information for the tare mass of the 4C changed from 972kg to the current figure of 1025kg.
RVD information is promulgated by the federal government, but is sourced from Fiat Chrysler's boffins in Europe. No additional equipment was listed on the second RVD for the car and, as noted above, the Aussie bureaucrats had already approved the 4C for sale back in April 2014 (at 972kg).
Prior to this story being published, local FCA product planning and PR people had sought clarification from Europe. The car's engineers advised that the original figure of 895kg was a "dry weight" and the car in European spec would never actually weigh so little in road-going trim. For the Australian market, the 4C boasts a reinforced rear subframe, some reinforcement of the front subframe, new cross members for side impact protection, reinforced windscreen structure and minor modification to the carbon-fibre tub. All up, according to FCA, these changes add 55kg to the dry weight of the car, taking it up to 950kg in Australian specification.
That, however, doesn't answer the question fully. What comprises the remaining 75kg in the car's Australian tare mass? The problem in part lies in definitions; tare mass is often heavier than dry weight, as the tare mass can include fluids such as fuel, oil, coolant, et cetera. Add to that any standard comfort and convenience features for the local market – air conditioning being a likely culprit – and you have enough extra gear to tip the Aussie 4C over the one-tonne threshold.
Why the focus on weight? At every stage of the 4C's protracted road to sale Alfa Romeo has made much of the car's mass. As much as anyone we're disappointed this has been lost in translation...
It might not be the end of the world but 130kg is a substantial percentage increase (around 15%) on the much vaunted sub-900kg mass of the original 4C... Equivalent in fact to your V8 Commodore adding nearly 270kg!
The difference is that unlike the Commodore example – based on kerb mass figures – the original dry weight figure of 895kg was always a pipe dream for 4C owners.
Published: Friday, 30 January 2015
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