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Frankfurt show: Alfa readies feisty 4C coupe

Future Alfa: Mid-engined 4C concept should become showroom-ready soon, but may not come to Australia.

Stunning 4C concept set to become reality as Alfa prepares for Frankfurt reveal

Alfa Romeo logo16 Aug 2011

By MARTON PETTENDY

ALFA Romeo appears to be on the verge of revealing the production version of its stunning 4C coupe concept, judging by a cryptic Frankfurt motor show invitation it issued via Facebook last week.

Overlaid with the words “Are you ready to discover the new look?”, the invitation presented a teaser image of what looks to be the 4C behind the glare of two distinctive headlights.

Although it is impossible to tell from the single teaser image, the move is likely to be the Italian luxury brand’s way of starting the countdown to the reveal of a revised road-ready version of the compact mid-engined coupe that wowed crowds at the Geneva show in March.

Precisely how the production 4C differs from the widely acclaimed concept will not be known until it debuts in Germany on September 13, but the Swiss show car’s dynamic proportions attracted plenty of attention – as did its innovative carbon-fibre and aluminium body panels.

The 4C concept was powered by the same 173kW 1.75-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that is found under the bonnet of the top-shelf Giulietta QV, this time mid-mounted and driving the rear wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

26 center imageAlfa said at Geneva that with a kerb weight target of less than 850kg the 4C will sprint to 100km/h in less than five seconds on its way to a top speed of more than 250km/h, making it the car-maker’s most serious model since the limited-edition 8C Competizione Coupe and Spider.

Crucially for Australians, however, right-hand drive production has not yet been confirmed, although European reports insist the two-seater 4C will be sold in the UK from mid-2012, following the start of limited production of about 5000 units annually immediately following its Frankfurt reveal.

It has also been reported the mid-engine coupe will be joined by roadster and, eventually, range-topping GTA derivatives – the latter powered by an even more potent version of Alfa’s new direct-injection turbo-petrol four.

Either way, Alfa’s answer to Porsche’s mid-engined Cayman coupe should not only be a dramatic departure from front-wheel drive sportscars like the GT and Brera coupes, but will also undercut the Cayman’s circa-$115,000 starting price by a significant margin, with European reports stating a target price of less than 40,000 euros ($A55,000) in Europe.

Of course, the 4C will top the model range with which Alfa will make its long-awaited return in the US, but that will not take place in earnest until mid-2013, when Alfa launches its all-new Giulietta-based compact crossover.

Expect the belated replacement for Alfa’s mid-size 159 sedan, the Giulia, to hit global markets including North America by late 2013, which may not be soon enough for Alfa to hit Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s US sales target of 85,000 sales in 2014, when no fewer than 500,000 global Alfa sales are forecast – up from 112,000 last year.

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