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Alfa Romeo 4C Review – A real workout

Although Armwrestling dates back to Egyptian times (apparently there are depictions on a tomb dated back 2,000 years), the modern ‘sport’ as we know it is based on a Native American game (Indian Wrestling) of the 19th Century. It’s a simple enough challenge, with their elbows on a flat surface, two people go arm to arm with the intention of pinning the opponent’s hand to said surface. Despite things like technique, speed and some psychological mind games coming into play, it’s about forearm strength and grip power. There are a host of training methods that can be utilised to gain the advantage, dumbbell lifting, wrist strengthening etc but Alfa Romeo have come up with a far better (and much prettier) way to train – it’s called the 4C and Alfa let me try it out.

First and possibly foremost, the 4C is glorious in the looks department. It’s much smaller (compact) than it comes across in the photo’s and I must say it was a bit of a worry as I looked down at my 1 pack belly – however, it is quite forgiving to get into (getting out takes more planning though). The version I got to workout with was the launch edition, with – on the outside – Carbon Fibre Headlight surround, Wing Mirror Covers, Rear Spoiler and Pirelli racing rubber on its R18 Front and R19 rear feet. Inside the cabin, Carbon Fibre adorns the dash and gear button bezel while leather, Alcantara and contrast stitching fills in the gaps on the seats and steering wheel.

Its appearance is best summed up by ‘looking very Italian’. It has a flair and 33 Stradale style that is truly Alfa as such is pretty impractical, which in turn makes it even more desirable. The 4C is a mid-engine Rear-wheel drive, pocket-sized supercar that by no means should be underestimated. The ‘bonnet’ release on the door frame opens the lid centre car and exposes the 1,750cc Turbo powered aluminium block engine, that produces around 177kW of power and nearly 350Nm of torque which when strapped to a car that straddles a mere 1,100kg’s in weight results in 0-100kph taking a reported 4.2seconds and 100-0 can be achieved in under 100ft. The statistics and numbers are one thing but driving this gorgeous beast is another thing entirely.

Once you have shoehorned yourself into the (uncomfortable at long distance) sports seats that are attached to the monocoque carbon fibre tub, there is actually a fair amount of room (for a car of this stature). A turn of the key brings on the engine roar and from there on in the fun ensues. The push of a button marked 1 engages the 6 speed TCT auto transmission, release the manual handbrake and off you go (well sort of).

You see, the 4C has no power steering, so any maneuvering at low speed takes effort, no strike that, a lot of effort. I knew about it but it still took me by surprise – it’s been a long time since I’ve driven ‘unaided’ and it takes work. This combined with the fact that the 4C has a nose that sniffs the ground like a bloodhound (which in turn amplifies the need to be slow approaching anything resembling an inclined driveway or speed bump) means that around the city you spend a lot of time wrestling with the wheel and to a lesser degree, this continues as you get out to the open roads as the chassis and wheel set up makes for continual adjustments down highways or rural tarmac but in all honesty you couldn’t care less.

The sound of the engine near your ear and the turbo whistle and pop amplified through the sports racing exhaust makes everything in the world seem right. The Cabin is alive with the near-deafening sound of pure driving, it’s exhilarating. Being so low to the ground and having such a seemingly unforgiving suspension makes cat’s eyes sound like gunfire and every pothole brings you one step closer to befriending an orthopedic but it just makes you smile even further.  Driving the 4C is a thrill, it demands attention and yet the rewards are countless. Its off the mark speed is enthusiastic, but it’s the pushing down on the accelerator during overtaking moves and cornering that the non power steering all makes sense – you ‘feel’ everything, you are at one with the car and road and at peace with the world.

Things like phone calls and music (through what looks like an aftermarket afterthought) are nearly impossible to hear so why bother and it has cruise control fitted but rest assured this isn’t a car that you can relax and recline in – and nor should you want to. This is a car that wants to be driven and I would have loved to have taken it out on a track (maybe another time).

Guys go to great lengths (and great expense) to get fit. They spend hours at the Gym, listening to loud music and working on a variety of muscle groups (Biceps are a crowd favourite) to look good with their shirt off. I think I have stumbled upon a better way to spend money and get a great workout – the Alfa Romeo 4C. Admittedly it takes a bit of ‘up front’ investment, but all good things need a bit of hard work to achieve great results.

So I recommend that rather than wasting money on a gym membership, buy a 4C, not only will you get big forearms and increase your upper body strength, you’ll have something other than yourself to gaze lovingly at.

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2 Responses

  1. Here’s the thing: that writhing steering wheel is something you get used to, to a degree where you do not notice it anymore – you can drive from Brussels to Brescia without feeling tired.
    By looking at that in reviews -as an owner- I get to see how long period the reviewer drove the car 😉

    1. Thanks for the feedback Johan, I unfortunately only had it for 4 days but can certainly see why you own one – it’s awesome!

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