Presented as a technical concept but prepping for at least limited production at some point in 2012, the Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe made a high-profile debut in Geneva. Conceived as a smaller and more affordable successor to the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, this mid-engine/rear drive exercise is made from a carbon-fiber monocoque and aluminum subframe/chassis combination that ensures it’s strong, rigid and light -- as in less than 850 kilograms (1,900 pounds). Alfa says the 4C Concept’s lines were inspired by its legendary 33 Stradale model, although it clearly embodies a more modern take on that classic theme.

For now, Alfa will only admit that the 1750cc turbocharged/direct-injected four-cylinder sitting behind the 4C’s passenger compartment will turn out “in excess of 200 horsepower,” although it carries a 232-horse rating in Giulietta QV duty. It gets sent to the rear wheels via Alfa’s TCT six-speed sequential dual-clutch transmission and will propel this petite two-place rocket from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds. The Alfa Romeo 4C teams its sport-tuned suspension with razor-sharp steering, stability/traction control and anti-lock disc brakes.

The Alfa Romeo 4C’s smartly finished cabin reinforces the performance look and feel of its striking matte-finished bodywork, teaming red leather and exposed carbon fiber with alloy accent bits and a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel with true form-fitting bucket seats.

As for its future, CEO Harald Wester indicated that Alfa Romeo 4C is due to go into production by late 2012 and will be sold globally, including here in the U.S. A roadster version of the car also is in the works.

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