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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
By accident I saw a nice looking Alfa 4C on the local Turo listing, so I decided to give it a shot and rented it for the weekend, and took it to the mountains nearby, here is my impression so far:
Disclaimer: This is NOT a real review nor is it comprehensive/objective, I am no where near as knowledgeable or experienced with cars as [insert your favorite car magazine/YouTube channel here], just some personal experience from an average sports car lover.
Exterior/Interior
One of the first things I noticed was the Alpine stereo system in the center console. Apparently it was stock, which made it seems like Alfa engineer literally just ran to the nearest Italian version of Best Buy and bought a radio for this car right at the last minute.
GPS? What's that? If this car had GPS you'd think FCA would have found its direction by now https://19216801.onl/ https://routerlogin.uno/https://192168ll.link/.
Bluetooth? Couldn't get it to work. But it doesn't matter since I wouldn't be able to hear the music anyway...because the car literally has no muffler. It's simply one of the loudest cars I've driven and due to its mid-engine setup, it was a lot more tiresome than even an F-Type R after a while. It was loud...but didn't sound particularly nice.
Engine/Drive Train
The engine feels like it doesn't produce any power until the turbo spools up, the lag was very noticeable. The DCT was fine once the car gets going but it is quite rough at handing local stop and go traffic. Once the turbo hits the car does feel super quick for a short bit, until the DCT up shifts and put you at a much lower RPM than expected.
Handling/Steering
LMAO, this thing has no powered steering. I thought I really missed the heavy steering/good steering feel from my E92, but this is simply just too much. If the pavement is not smooth you'd be fighting against the car through the entire turn and bigger bumps are just plain unsettling. The steering was accurate and quick, but at parking lots it was just brutally annoying due to... well....no powered steering. In combination with the terrible visibility from within, this tiny thing was harder to park than cars twice its size.
Overall Driving Impression
Did I mention the car was unsettling? The car simply feels a lot faster than it is, because you feel everything. Every pothole is a landmine, you run over a shadow and the steering wheel would jerk. The chassis was stiffer than [insert joke analogy about something super stiff here]. A 718 S feels as smooth as a Lexus when compared to this thing, and for those of you who say "yeah, but raw = good", this is a case where you have to personally experience it to make a judgement of your own. Driving at 80mph on the highway in this thing is almost scary, I feel as if one of the SUV drivers can pop my airbags just by looking at me the wrong way.
Other
I'm not going to dig into why this car would be a terrible daily driver. But as far as reliability goes the owner mentioned that the got the entire transmission replaced at 6000 miles, under warranty.
Conclusion
But you know what, despite all the negative things I said the car still put a huge smile on my face. It is different, raw, and very uncivilized. But **** if it's not a beautiful piece of engineering to experience a couple times a year.
PRO: It's like a go-kart on public roads.
CON: It's like a go-kart on public roads.
 

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PRO: It's like a go-kart on public roads.
CON: It's like a go-kart on public roads.
Haha, nice summary!

It's a valid review, whether you are an experienced road tester or not - you are reporting what any interested potential customer would feel after a test drive. Thanks for posting.

I made the leap and bought a 4C Spider a few months ago, knowing that I would need to make a number of mods to it, to address the issues you raise. So far I have done:
  • steering blocks from Alfaworkshop and a geometry re-alignment to sort out the tramlining/steering jerk.
  • new front tyres to replace the dreadful Pirellis. This and the first point have sorted the steering pretty well.
  • Taken the exhaust off (you're right, it is unpleasantly loud !), and put a Quicksilver one on which has a resonator to calm it down. Now it is still sporty but in a good, more refined way - its fine to drive with the top off.
  • I am getting a new head unit and reverse camera fitted tomorrow, so will have SatNav, DAB radio etc. , as well as better visibility in reverse
  • fitted a Stage 1 remap ECU which gives more power and low down torque so the turbo lag is less noticeable.
I will have spent ca. £4k on it by the time I have it where I want it but I'm happy with that as I took it into account when negotiating the price.

Its still a Go-Kart, in a great way, and it gives me a buzz just getting into it, let alone driving it :)
 

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I'm not going to dig into why this car would be a terrible daily driver. But as far as reliability goes the owner mentioned that the got the entire transmission replaced at 6000 miles, under warranty.
But still...

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Rancho, great perspective! The Alfa Romeo 4C is not for everyone or even for very many. Just a very few who want to put up with its many and varied idiosyncrasies. Do you know as many Corvettes are sold in the average month (1,500 to 2,500) in the US as the total number of 4Cs have EVER been sold in the US (2,200)?

Think about that....lol. There is a reason. You have to put up with a lot as an owner of a 4C. But like a sultry, sexy, high-maintenance, demanding girlfriend, it gives back that and more in spades to those willing to endure. It's a little like being a Lotus Elise owner, I would imagine. And to be honest I would expect most of us Alfistis on here to understand that passion often runs deeper than reason when it comes to love of an automobile.

You bring up all very good points, nothing to refute, Rancho. And no reason to not just go buy Porsche instead. But I think you totally get it by the smile it put on your face. The best way I can explain how the few of us feel is by way of my license plate... 4C verb: to put up with a lot and get so much back in return. Happy motoring!

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It's all subjective. I had the occasion to drive a student's Cayman S at Laguna Seca for a few laps and....to me it was boring. My BMW 540i/6 was much more fun I also test drove a Boxster on the street and same thing -- just felt too medium, no chassis liveliness, just grip with no emotion. Perhaps it would at 9/10ths driving, but that is not safe on public roads. I'm not a big fan of the 4C, but I do like cars to challenge me. The 4C with manual would be terrific, but unfortunately it is not available.
 

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I have an LE, I agree with the dartiness, very unsettling, but the Alfa Works Race blocks and new alignment settings fixed that, before the switch, 104 mph was my limit, as the car would just about change lanes with no input from me. I didn’t buy it for the sound system, mine came with a Parrot brand radio, I basically listen to NPR on it. Installed a clone ECU, putting power up to about 290-300 hp, freaking thing screams, and I haven’t experienced the lag. To sum it up it is certainly not a grand tourer, more like riding a liter sport bike with 4 wheels, but it makes all the right noises, and is raw. Agreed not for everyone, but for the price, and the fact you get a carbon tub it is a throwback to the olden days, most modern performance cars do everything well, but enough is enough, all the creature comforts they come with in my opinion detract from their true purpose. Weight is the enemy, so with all the extra servos, motors, heated and cooled seats, additional wiring I am well pleased with the spartan approach the 4C provides.
 

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I purchased a barely used 4C Spider last November and have been very happy with it. It is a 2016 model that had less than 4,000 miles on it, and I picked it up for about 50% of its retail sticker price. It was still the most expensive car I have ever purchased. I have a small collection of low cost cars that are all driver cars (no trailer queens for me), and the 4C is almost a luxury car compared to some of the vintage sport cars I have. It is meant to be a raw sports car with modern technology, so the fact it has power windows, air conditioning, leather trim, etc., is all above & beyond in my mind. I agree that the cost of the car, especially full retail, is a lot for a toy car, but I am sure Alfa lost money on every car sold.

I read about the issues people had with tramlining, but understand that this seemed to affect the early models the most (factory alignment was modified after that). Mine has no suspension modifications, and still has the OEM Pirelli tires (race versions) and the car has been pretty easy to drive. The tires are soft compound so even on a hot day, they need a few minutes to warm up to smooth out the ride, but after that, they are great. I know people talk about better tires that can be installed, and when the OEM tires wear out, I can look into making that change, but I see no reason to spend the money now. I have had the car up over 120mph, and it was no problem to drive. It is not a car you drive at high speeds with a fingertip on the wheel, or take on roads filled with potholes, but it wasn't designed to be that kind of car. The steering is heavy when not moving, but is plenty easy when the car starts to roll. My 1974 GTV is even harder to turn the steering wheel if you are not moving.

The radio complaints are something I truly do not understand. Yes, it is a standard DIN radio, but the car does not lend itself to cruising the highway while enjoying exceptional music fidelity. The car is loud, and I have heard that the coupes are even louder due to the glass hatch over the engine. The radio has your typical AM/FM, CD's, and then also includes satellite radio capability, USB connection, bluetooth for streaming music from your phone, and hands free phone calls. I agree that the Parrot unit installed on the early models would be undesirable, but the Alpine unit I have that came on the later models is perfectly acceptable for the car. I rarely listen to music while driving any of my cars, so I may not represent what most people want for car audio, but even if I was an audiophile type, this is not the car to want that in.

I have had no reliability issues, but the car still has under 5,000 miles on it. As someone who wrenches on his cars a fair deal, the modern systems used for the drive train are a source of concern for long term ownership, but not because I expect them to fail prematurely, only that if they do break at some time in the next 20 years, they are not systems I can likely fix myself. Having a few old analog cars, I know I can fix lots of things that go wrong on them.

I know the Porsche Caymen/Boxsters are great cars for similar used prices, but as many others have noted, they are not comparable to the Alfa, as the design goal is not the same. While I know there are some people that daily drive their 4C's, I doubt that Alfa designed the car for that intent. Considering the car is a hand built, carbon fiber, low production number vehicle, and it looks fabulous while having ample performance, I felt it was a good purchase to make that fit in well with some of the other cars I own (listed in my signature).

Bottom line is, do not buy one of these as your only car you commute to work in every day, as you will eventually say I need to get a different car for this purpose (obviously this may not apply to everyone). But if you want a fun sports car that is lively, and you will rarely see another one on the road, do not get scared away by complaints over the radio and steering. Also, I am a bit over 6' tall, and the car is very comfortable for me, so they are roomy enough for people over the average height. Now if you are an NFL player, you might have some problems....
 

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In order to find out if you can daily drive an Alfa 4C, I spent the day with one, courtesy of Cyrus at exotic rental car firm Broadway SuperCars. ... Plainly speaking, the 4C has none.
None what? Don't leave us hanging!
 

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Sounds like Alfa sold a car with bump steer ... that is okay when the car is a cruiser, but not for a very light car that is stiffly sprung and quick

So easy to solve bump steer ... ??
Pete
Assume this is rhetorical? My 2018 had horrible tramlining when first purchased new, Alfa Romeo replaced all tires and the dealership performed an alignment under warranty. Now at 16k miles (4th car but lot of miles put on it, driving only on weekends). Still no tramlining and we have horrible roads in PA.

Is it a perfect daily driver, depends on expectations and past car history. It's not my GLS550 however it was purchased to be a fun 2 seat convertible that isn't same as my MB 2 seat that is basically a mid-point of comfort between the 4C and the GLS. I wouldn't trade the 4C for any other sports car that pops into my head (I don't track so wont use a supercar for anything beyond something to show off with).
 

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Im sure Im going to receive hate mail after this post but why not look at the Lotus Evora's. Im a die hard Alfa owner having owned 48 Alfa's but I chose a 2015 N/A Evora over the 4C. They are one of the few 3 pedal sports cars left. Not quite as fast ultimately as a 4C but still great. Do your research and read how absolutely fantastic they are
 

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A friend of mine owned a 4C, dark grey color...which I thought looked really good on that car. I had the opportunity to drive it on several occasions and I thought it performed brilliantly! I think it's a huge bang for the buck and wonder why I don't see more of them on the road.
Not seeing many on road in US as there were just over 2k of them sold between coupes and spiders before production stopped. Was a marketing tool to get the excitement of AR back, too bad the dealer network is so absolutely horrible (have had mine at both AR/Mas and AR/FIAT).
 

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Not seeing many on road in US as there were just over 2k of them sold between coupes and spiders before production stopped. Was a marketing tool to get the excitement of AR back, too bad the dealer network is so absolutely horrible (have had mine at both AR/Mas and AR/FIAT).
Yes, that appears to be the strategy...it was effective initially but then Alfa tends to peter out with their promo efforts.
 

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@PSk Pete - I just got my 4c and have a lot to learn, and can’t drive it’s limit yet, which is high. Check out the 4c forum. yes the suspension fixes are in...the later cars seem to be better...some is just checking alignment settings and making some changes to factory settings. There is a small but dedicated aftermarket that has produced some amazing stuff for suspension, engine and even interior. It’s not cheap though.

Interesting comments, and consistent:

  • Driving a 4c is an experience
  • not luxurious
  • very fast up to 100mph
  • extraordinarily responsive
  • not for most people at all
  • not a daily driver for most owners
  • gorgeous
  • quite reliable including tranny, and people have been taking them to the track, granted not that many have high mileage
  • relatively cheap to run
  • quality has improved
  • takes some skill and guts to drive at the limit
  • it’s a sports car, not a supercar

Engine derived from mass market design? Yup, Alfa/FCA took an iron block engine and made it in aluminum, gave it full girdle lower end, forged crank and pistons, cast but beefy rods. Plus all the modern digital and turbo stuff, sounds like something that happened once in the 1950s...

CF chassis car that still ends up being heavier than a Miata? Yup. That gorgeous bodywork weighs a bit. And the stuff to make it go really fast weighs something. It’s still less than 2500 lbs US for heavens sake. SZ was not that light.

Steering is heavy in a parking lot? Have you driven a gtv6? 4c feels like power steering.

No manual. Can’t argue about that. I will say that the car has a narrow but vicious power band and I like the TCT and it fits the engine. Gear ratios are short and tight.

No storage. Yup. Pack light like you own a Junior Z. Can’t open the trunk from outside? Pretend you have an old spider.

Too loud? get one with a standard or dual mode exhaust. Too stiff, don’t buy one with a track suspension, go to 17/18 wheels instead of 18/19.

Too expensive? When a new Honda costs $30k? Get a low mileage used one, pretty good values.

A marketing effort? You bet, just like Montreal.

I am actually pretty happy with the audio. The original Parrott radio was a cool idea, just didn’t work. Use my phone for Nav. Or a map.

Heat and AC work. You actually have to turn a dial to adjust heat. Targa top doesn’t leak.

Owners take this bad girl to the track and she runs all day long, like a lot of old Alfa’s. Faster than a GT3 or a Guilia Quad at the ring? No, not stock anyways.

Even if you dont want to own one...and I get that, you should experience driving one. It’s amazing. And gorgeous in person. Like an Alfa.
 
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