Mid-engine, lightweight and with a starting price of 50.500 € just barely affordable. You do not even have to belong to the core of the most faithful Alfisti to appreciate the sporting rebirth of the FIAT daughter Alfa Romeo with more than a nod of approval.
Back to the roots of driving pleasure, back to the chance to experience emotion behind the wheel. That's right. In real. Back in an era when cars did not have to have 500 PS to impress on the racetrack. That can be the Alfa Romeo 4C.
Test drive in the Alfa Romeo 4C
Hockenheim. In the same pit lane where exactly 20 years ago the racing drivers Larini, Nannini and Francia got into their DTM racing cars of the type 155 V6 Ti, the incarnation of the Alfa Romeo brand is available for a test drive.
As only the English or the Italians can do, an ultra-compact two-seater stands in front of me, which was designed to fulfill exactly one task: driving pleasure.
So please fill my slowly fading memories of the enjoyable world of simple lateral acceleration with new life. Free me from stop & go assistants, infotainment and virtual efficiency trees in the cockpit, give me the pure grip, the passion of “driving a car”. In the dynamic version. You're welcome. And Amen.
Now I'm not the born athlete myself and I'm almost afraid of the 4C's compact case. Will I be able to look at this intimate plastic case from the inside? When the doors are open, the first view is of carbon. Not laminated, clearly recognizable as a supporting body. A quiet promise of the makers to the fulfillment of impressive performance figures, even if ridden in the back of the driver only a 1.750 ccm big four-cylinder.
The Italians promise 895 kilograms of “dry” curb weight for the 4C. With a full tank, a drop of oil for the engine and the Alemannic heavyweight behind the wheel, the power-to-weight ratio of 240 hp to 895 kilograms should be less spectacular than initially assumed. But I'm not there to make any further assumptions about the 4C, I am allowed to drive it. In Hockenheim. On the short connection to the Badischer Motordrom.
The 4C is started by turning the key - the waiver of a playful start button is bearable, but after the first acoustic cough from the engine, the dual-clutch transmission installed in series can be switched to A or M mode at the push of a button. Just starting the almost 1.8 liter turbo gasoline engine raises serious doubts about the EC type approval of the 4C. I am grateful to note that not even the EU has managed to limit the exultant life noises of the 240 hp engine to the general level of noise in a Brussels library.
Professionally pressed in between the bottom of the flattened steering wheel and the stylishly sewn with double seam sports seats, I wonder when I last felt as such elementary component of a vehicle. It was long ago.
240 PS are no revelation on the racetrack
The first lap in the Badischer Motodrom I leave slow, I wonder about this colorful display in the cockpit, it evokes memories of the Fan. Only here everything is much simpler. A simple black dashboard - hardly any make-up. However, anyone who pulls out the haptic argumentation club and tries to explain the 4C using its plastic grain in the interior has not understood what this car is about. The 4C was built to drive. And with a courageous pull on the left gearshift paddle, I let the speed jump up when downshifting, to find out time whether this steering, freed from power assistance, really tells the truth about the grip on the front axle.
240 hp is not impressive. It's the 350 Nm of the turbo gasoline engine here in the environment of a handy two-seater. But those who can impress. Thanks to a perfect weight distribution of 40 to 60%, the driven rear wheels have enough traction to convert the power of the engine into propulsion. And he pushes hard. The mid-engine design of the 4C would have led to significantly more respect 20 years ago when approaching the limit of liability. But the 4C has a sense of honesty. Sneaky reactions are alien to him. Of course, the stern turns in when you provoke load changes when driving into the crossbar. But it's all easy to control. You can feel in your fingertips how much grip the front wheels have. The conversation between the, with Pirelli P-Zero tires, front axle and your own popometer over the limit of the transverse dynamic feasibility is clear. A few laps on the asphalt of the Hockenheimer circuit are enough to manifest the relationship between the 4C and the driver.
240 hp? They are enough. Straight ahead are 258 km / h. But who wants to drive straight ahead with this handling expert? The curve is his territory. Here, the rack and pinion steering - without power assistance - the 205 Pirelli sports socks and the driver form a single unit. The four-cylinder turbo rages in the back, which has been equipped with an “after-run pump” and thus supplies the thermally highly stressed turbo with vital lubricant even after the drive has been switched off.
The Alfa Romeo 4C reminiscent of a large, deliberate kart. It awakens long-believed sensors in their own popometer and refreshes with a heartfelt soundscape. Rotzig cheeky, alive and who peels off the body, raves still hours later from this first exit on the racetrack.
Nannini won both DTM races in Hockenheim on September 19.09.1993, 4 - after a few laps there was an equally clear winner for me. The XNUMXC is a ray of hope in the world of electric motors, the CO² footprint and characterless platform cars.
The 4C impresses with a convincing focus on the desires of people who consider driving an active car as a zest for life.
If it's not enough for the original Alfa Romeo 4C, how about a model car?