4Cs show future of Alfa Romeo

  • 11-Mar-2013 05:06 EDT
130305_AR_4C_01.jpg

Alfa 4C has changed little from the concept shown at Geneva in 2011.

It is two years since Alfa Romeo displayed the 4C concept at the Geneva Motor Show, having turned the design around in nine months. Even at that stage, the car was already marked out for production, with the first cars expected in 2012.

Two years later, Alfa has used the Geneva Motor Show to unveil the production version and launch it in a restricted range of colors. The Launch Edition will be produced in limited numbers, with 400 for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, 500 in North America, and 100 for the rest of the world. The car will launch the return of Alfa Romeo to the U.S.

The production car shows little change externally from the concept of two years ago. It is a two-seat, mid-engine, rear-drive coupe. Construction makes extensive use of carbon fiber; the monocoque is made entirely from it, and the body from glass-reinforced plastic. Like the concept car, the rear subframe and crash boxes are made from aluminum, as is the foot board inside the car to help keep mass to a minimum. Alfa Romeo claims that the passenger monocoque has a mass of 65 kg (143 lb) and dry mass of the complete car is 895 kg (1973 lb), some 45 kg (99 lb) more than the claimed amount of the concept.

“I think that we are satisfied that the exterior of the car is very close to the concept, apart from some details,” project designer and Head of Styling for Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Maserati, Marco Tencone, told AEI. “The front lights, for instance, [are different] and some other details. We are working to give some choice for the future, to change some details, and to make different versions through the lifetime of the product. We will probably make other versions with other solutions for the front lights and also for some details of the interior.” A convertible model is expected to be among those other versions.

Like the concept, the car will be powered by a four-cylinder, 1750-cm³, turbocharged, direct-injection, all-aluminum gasoline engine. It will produce 240 hp (179 kW), compared with the 200 hp (149 kW) discussed when the concept was launched, and 350 N·m (258 lb·ft). Both cams feature variable valve timing. Drive will be transmitted to the rear wheels through a variant of Alfa’s TCT twin-dry-clutch transmission.

It is the interior where there is the greatest difference between the concept car and the production model, Tencone told AEI. “On the concept, the interior was more like a designer dream, our vision for the future of interior design for Alfa Romeo. We will see this kind of language in other Alfas of the future.

“In this car, the reason for changes to the interior was mainly the weight and also the cost saving, especially because customers for this kind of car are not so interested to be in an interior that is too rich—that has too many things all around. He or she has to be very concentrated on the driving, so there is no reason to design a complicated shape, a very busy shape with a lot of things, so this is the main change in design compared with the prototype.

“I think the car preserves the spirit of the concept,” continued Tencone. “We worked like they did in the ‘60s, with the tail lights from other cars and some elements in the interior. I think in the end, for this kind of customer, it smells like the car of the ‘60s. I think it’s not so far from the spirit of the owners of this car, in my opinion.”

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