Back in 2011 when the 4C first bowed at the Geneva Auto Show, we thought it'd be a while before Alfa Romeo returned to the United States. Fast-forward only three years later and the Italian automaker has finally come back with the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C in tow. With only 500 examples arriving right off the bat, you may be hard-pressed to see a 4C on the road for a little while (more on that below). However, Alfa has big plans for the car as it will be the first relatively mass-produced vehicle for U.S. consumption in two decades. We recently had the 4C in to see if it was worth the wait.

Slow start for a raucous two-seater 

It takes a few seconds, as you have to hold the key in the "on" position before the Alfa Romeo 4C shudders to life. Soon you're met with the rumble that escapes the 1.75-liter direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Then there's the paddle-shift manual transmission with no clutch pedal that take a few seconds of staring at to figure out how to interact with it. There's the "A/M" (automatic/manual) button to the left which dictates whether or not you want the transmission to shift automatically or on your command with the paddles. Going clockwise, above that is the "1" button, which is what you press when you want to go forward. After that there's the obvious ones like "N" for neutral followed by "R" for reverse. 

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To get the 4C rolling, you need to hold down the "1" button and choose your transmission setting. Once all of that is done and the 4C begins to roll forward you're met with another anomaly. The 4C doesn't have power steering, which can be a bit of a bear when traveling at slow speeds, but once you get up and running, the steering lightens and becomes more responsive. You can adjust the 4C's settings courtesy of a toggle switch that sits below the transmission buttons. We enjoyed Dynamic Mode, which made the exhaust note even more pronounced. The Alfa 4C howled and hissed as we sprinted up a mountain road before quickly turning off to a favorite look-out spot. After taking in some sights (that being the people crowding around the 4C in the parking lot), we headed back down the mountain flanked by some sports cars that would normally steal the show. This time, however, the 4C was the center of attention. 

Center of the universe 

Not only did it sound good charging uphill but it caught the attention of bystanders and drivers alike everywhere we went. On more than one occasion, people would watch as we passed by with a bewildered look on their face. Merging onto the freeway was no easy task either. Not because the high strung engine was faint-hearted, but because people were too busy staring to let us into the flow of traffic. During one morning commute while merging onto the freeway; a motorcyclist was hustling around the line of traffic before the Alfa Romeo 4C caught his eye. Instead of continuing on, the rider turned and looked over his left shoulder for a few seconds before giving the thumbs up. 

Alfa Romeo's return to the United States appears to be off on the right foot based solely on the public's response to the 4C everywhere we went with it. Obviously the 4C is designed with a certain consumer in mind -one that would consider getting a Lotus Elise or a Porsche Cayman, for example, and is interested in a healthy diet of track days.  That being said, if you're in the market for a mid-engine two-seater with a sole purpose for driving, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is a good place to start your search. 

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