Driven: Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

It seems that there’s an ever increasing fight for efficiency these days. Be it fuel efficiency, efficiency in the manufacturing of cars or the reduction of weight, the blokes who make cars have been doing it for a while now so it only makes sense that they are streamlining the process and becoming “better” at it. So without lingering on this dull topic of efficiency, essentially what this means for us petrolheads and traffic dwellers is that for less fuel, we can get more speed. What a win!Most expensive vehicles these days boast 0-100kmh times of under 8 seconds – a completely pointless statistic but nevertheless something that is thrown around more than a pillow at a pyjama party. This can be attributed, in part, to modern powertrains putting their power down more effectively, as well as reductions in vehicle weight. So while a Range Rover Sport SVR achieves this meaningless milestone in 4.7 seconds, it weighs 3 tonnes and has a claimed average fuel consumption of 6000l/100km. It has a power to weight ratio of 135kW/tonne which is commendable considering the fact that you’re essentially driving around in a car with the sporting prowess of Usain Bolt in a pair Timberlands.Enter Alfa Romeo’s 4C. Everything about this car has been carefully crafted in an attempt to save weight. From the fancy carbon-fibre tub and plastic body panels to some poor chap’s scrotum stitched to the underside of the dash in place of a glove box – this whole car screams lightweight. Weighing in at a little less than the air inside a packet of Lays Crisps, it has a power-to-weight ratio of 188.3kW/tonne. So rather than achieving its poke using brute force, the Alfa only boasts a miniscule 1750cc turbo 4-pot, but scrambles to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds. So essentially, Usain Bolt in a pair of flip-flops.This can be felt in everything from the way it bolts (lol) off the line under heavy acceleration to its sublime cornering ability and the deafening road noise as a result of minimal sound deadening. With its four-square stance and engine sitting amidships, the 4C Spider is a serious track tool and a force to be reckoned with in the twisties. At high speed, though, it does feel as though Mr Bolt has traded his flip flops in for a pair of beauty spa slippers with the steering of the 4C becoming incredibly twitchy, sensitive and devoid of feeling as the front end lightens up. Tramlining is also evident but this makes for an entertaining time behind the wheel, albeit something you need to be aware of.
The only time the 4C Spider is not nimble is during parking manoeuvres, thanks to its lack of power assisted steering and my not 1st team rugby biceps. Alfa’s TCT gearbox is also not great at low speeds, although you don’t buy this car to potter around in parking lots and traffic jams unless you’re a serious poser.This would be understandable though because goodness gracious it’s a looker, especially when finished in Giallo Prototipo or “yellow”. Alfa have done well to scrap the 4C Coupe’s fly-eye headlights in favour of more conventional units and an array of optional carbon body bits, different colours and new wheel options are also exclusive to the 4C Spider but the plastic chocolate box interior remains.So, blistering speed, phenomenal looks and a typically Italian exhaust note make for what essentially feels like a genuine supercar which has now only been improved with the omission of the roof. It’s also easier to get into now. One could even argue that this is a “baby Ferrari”…but it’s an argument you’ll probably lose. At R1 340 000 it isn’t cheap, but did you honestly expect it to be?

 

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