New 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Convertible New 2019
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Convertible

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C is about as unadulterated as it gets for modern-day sports cars. By that we mean this is a car that is laser-focused on performance, essentially a track toy that happens to be street legal. Forget amenities like heated seats or Apple CarPlay compatibility; this lightweight Italian exotic doesn’t even have power steering. If you’re looking for a performance car that’s civil, you’re far better off in a Porsche Boxster or an Audi TT. But if you have nearly $70,000 to spend on a head-turning, exclusive and exceptionally nimble sports car, the Alfa 4C fits the bill. Note that you’ll want to keep a few dollars reserved for a hat -- with the coupe gone for 2019, the targa-style Spider is the only offering for 2019.

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You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a hand-built, lightweight, hard-core performance car akin to the no-longer-available Lotus Elise, check out the Alfa Romeo 4C. Thanks to its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and tidy size, this 2-seater appeals to those who appreciate the less-is-more mantra.

You May Not Like This Car If...

From its noisy and cramped interior to bad sightlines to lack of power steering, the new Alfa Romeo 4C takes commitment and is about as far from comfortable as you can get. If you want a performance car that you can also appreciate as a daily driver, get a Porsche 718 Boxster or Cayman, a Jaguar F-Type or, well, anything else. Those rivals also offer a manual transmission.

What's New for 2019

The coupe version of the Alfa Romeo 4C is no longer available, leaving just the Spider variant. For 2019, the 4C gains as standard a rearview camera, cruise control and rear parking sensors. Features formerly bundled in track packages like a race-tuned suspension and carbon-fiber mirrors become stand-alone options.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The Alfa Romeo 4C is the automotive equivalent of a surgeon's scalpel. As a scalpel is the perfect tool in the hands of a skilled surgeon, a good driver can feel great behind the wheel of this Italian performance car. The steering is intentionally unassisted so it can communicate every inch of road. And so it does. On paper the Alfa’s turbocharged 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine’s 237 horsepower isn’t much, but it’s only working against roughly 2,500 pounds. That equates to a genuinely fast car -- the Alfa Romeo 4C’s 0-60-mph time is logged at 4.1 seconds -- with only a hint of turbo lag. The 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission shifts quickly, and there's a distinct difference among the various “DNA” (for Dynamic, Natural, All-Weather and Race modes) drive modes. Yet, like a scalpel cutting vegetables, the 4C is sorely out of its element once you've left the racetrack. The stiff suspension pounds over bumps, the engine screams constantly, the exhaust barks like a neighborhood dog, and at low speed that unassisted steering feels like pulling your arms out of tar. This is not a car for commuting or cruising.

Favorite Features

EXCLUSIVITY & INTENT
Taking the plunge on an Alfa Romeo 4C shows you’re serious about driving and are willing to compromise basic comforts for purebred performance. Owning one also puts you in an exclusive club, as Alfa makes and sells only a fraction of 4C models compared with rivals from other brands.

CARBON-FIBER MONOCOQUE
Part of the 4C’s secret, and the reason it can pack so much performance with a smaller engine, is its carbon-fiber monocoque chassis. This material is stronger yet lighter than steel, which enables the 4C to weigh less than 2,500 pounds and boast a 10.4 power-to-weight ratio.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C’s 2-passenger interior is an exercise of function over comfort. Space is cramped and controls for climate and other functions are simple, looking like something from a car a decade ago. Instead of a traditional gear selector, there are buttons arrayed in a somewhat odd pattern high in the central tunnel. To put it in Drive or Reverse, for example, you must press R or D, and so on. Switches to operate the windows and adjust the mirrors are also in the center transmission tunnel rather than the usual doorsills. Infotainment, or lack thereof, is relegated to a basic head unit with AM/FM, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity. A couple of highlights are a 7-inch driver-information display and leather interior. Cargo space is nearly nonexistent at just 3.7 cubic feet behind the mid-mounted engine. That’s barely enough to accommodate an overnight bag.

Exterior

For all its faults, the 4C’s design certainly isn’t one of them. This is a gorgeous, hand-crafted hunk of a car. Made in Modena, Italy, the Alfa Romeo 4C is a little bundle of curves and angles that speak to its exotic and fast nature. The 4C is exceptionally small. At just 157 inches in length, it’s just a smidge bigger than Mazda’s tiny MX-5 Miata roadster. The Alfa 4C’s nose sits near the ground, making driveway approaches challenging, and rear visibility is poor. The Spider’s convertible top is a canvas targa top that stores in the trunk when rolled up.

Notable Standard Equipment

Purpose-built for performance and racing, the Alfa Romeo 4C contains the basics and little else. There are power auto-down windows, air conditioning, a 7-inch color gauge-cluster display and a 4-speaker Alpine AM/FM/CD audio system with Bluetooth phone connectivity and USB input. Formerly optional but now standard for 2019 are a rearview camera, cruise control and rear parking sensors. The 4C uses its DNA selector to choose from four different driving modes, which vary the aggressiveness of the throttle, transmission and stability control. Filling out the safety roster are front airbags, door-mounted side airbags and a driver's-knee airbag, along with stability control, traction control and hill-start assist.

Notable Optional Equipment

Don’t expect many optional amenities on this Alfa. Unlike sports cars from Porsche, Audi, Jaguar or other brands, you just won’t find many creature comforts in the Alfa Romeo 4C. Aside from a higher-end Alpine audio system, most options are to take the Alfa’s performance even higher. Among the offerings are a race-tuned suspension, carbon-fiber aesthetics, bi-xenon headlights, and Akrapovic exhaust system.

Under the Hood

The 2019 Alfa 4C Spider is powered by mid-mounted, 1.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine good for 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. While you can find more horsepower in most family sedans, the 4C’s diminutive 2,487-pound weight permits an impressive 10.4 power-to-weight ratio. The 4C can sprint to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, but you’ll have to get past the brief turbo lag before you really feel the power kick in. The only transmission is a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic that can also be shifted manually via a set of paddle shifters. Even with its downshift rev-matching technology, this transmission just isn’t as satisfying as a good manual.

1.7-liter turbocharged inline-4
237 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg

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Pricing Notes

With the coupe variant gone for 2019, it will take roughly $11,000 more to get into a 4C. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider starts at $68,495, including the $1,595 destination charge. With options like premium paint, carbon-fiber elements and upgraded wheels, that price can rise by several thousand dollars. There isn’t much else in the market quite like the Alfa Romeo 4C, so $70,000 for what is essentially a race car may seem either extravagant or pretty fair, depending on your perspective. Still, if you want a 2-seat sports car that packs performance and far more civilized manners, you can get it for less in the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman, Jaguar F-Type, Audi TT, and even a Chevrolet Corvette. Whatever you decide, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. As for the Alfa Romeo 4C’s resale value, it’s about average, but can’t touch that of a Porsche Boxster or Cayman.

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