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New models - Alfa Romeo - 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C races in – but ‘sold out’

Grande Progetti: The Cloverleaf logo will adorn several more high-performance models over the next few years.

Long-awaited Alfa 4C coupe arrives as flagship model for Italian brand

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Alfa Romeo logo17 Feb 2015

By TIM ROBSON

ALFA Romeo’s long-awaited 4C sportscar has arrived in Australia this week and heralds a new beginning for the 104-year-old Italian brand, according to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia’s new president and CEO Pat Dougherty.

In the top job Down Under since late last year, Mr Dougherty – a 30-year veteran of the Chrysler brand in the US and most recently vice-president of FCA’s Mopar parts and service division – said the all-new two-seater coupe had already paid dividends for Alfa Romeo in Australia following its international launch late last year.

The Australian subsidiary’s 2015 allocation is all but sold out, extending its appeal well beyond Alfa’s traditional fans, the Alfisti, to a new generation of buyers.

“It’s the flagship of the brand,” Mr Dougherty said.

“It’s the first vehicle we’re bringing to market to show what we can do. It’s bringing back all the heritage, traits, traditions, all the things Alfa Romeo is known for.

“If you drive the car and it doesn’t put a smile on your face we’ll be checking your pulse afterwards.

“Even though the volume isn’t going to be large for Australia, it’s critical for us to let everybody know: ‘Hey, this is the point. We’re moving forward, we’re going upscale, we’re taking this brand where it needs to be.&rsquo.”

FCA Australia has not detailed the exact Australian allocation of 4C vehicles for 2015, other than 75 units of the range-topping Launch Edition (from 1300 worldwide) that is priced at $109,000 plus on-road costs.

This is a $20,000 premium over the recommended retail price of $89,000 for the standard-spec model.

GoAuto understands that 400 cars have been requested for the next two years, but there is no guarantee that this supply from the Maserati factory in Modena, Italy, will be met.

It will have few competitors in the local space Lotus’s elderly 1.8-litre, manual-only Elise S retails for $84,990, while the auto Evora starts at $139,900. Porsche’s Cayman 2.7-litre entry model, meanwhile, is $106,600 plus on-road costs.

At this week’s launch in Sydney, Mr Dougherty indicated that the car is already a sell-out in Australia for the foreseeable future.

“The dealers say they are sold (but) we don’t know the extent,” Mr Dougherty said. “Sometimes (the dealers) say they are sold and they may or may not be, but I think they are pretty much sold.

“The demand for them is probably going to exceed the supply for us for the next couple of years.” A range of new high-performance Alfa Romeos will follow the 4C, but apart from the admission that the next announcement will come in June this year, Mr Dougherty gave little away about the make-up of the forthcoming new models.

“To be honest with you, we have not been briefed on timing for future models.

To be very honest with you, there are very few people in the company who have been brought into that equation. It’s a very tight-knit group, and they’re not letting it out,” he said.

However, the FCA Australia boss did concede to GoAuto that an SUV is on its way, and that it would be sought after for the Australian market.

“I think if you look at the Australian market, obviously there’s a lot of people that are switching over from sedans into sport utilities so we see growth there,” said Mr Dougherty, adding that the parent company has two utility vehicles, as he called them, already in the pipeline.

“We have some vehicles coming that are going to target the highest market segments in Australia (but) I can’t give you specifics.”

At the heart of the 4C is a 1.8-litre direct-injection all-alloy four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine – shared with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV also launched this week – that produces 177kW of power at 6000rpm and 350Nm of torque at 2200rpm (80 per cent of which is available at 1700rpm).

With a 900kg dry weight, and tipping the scales at 1025kg with fuel and fluids onboard, the 4C drives the rear wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and electronically controlled rear differential.

Alfa claims the 4C can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds, on its way to a 257km/h top speed.

Notwithstanding structural modifications made to pass Australian safety regulations, which has added 130kg compared to other markets, weight is kept to a minimum with the alloy engine, carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, aluminium front and rear subframes and composite body panels.

The 4C measures 4000mm long, 1860mm wide and 1180mm high.

Suspension is double-wishbone up front with MacPherson struts at the rear, while the Launch Edition includes uprated dampers and sway bars.

Conversely, there is no power assistance at the steering wheel. The front brake callipers are Brembo one-piece quad-piston units, with 305mm steel front rotors and 297mm discs at the rear.

The standard-spec 4C uses 17-inch forged alloy wheels up front and 18-inch rims at the rear. Tyres are Pirelli P-Zeros measuring 205/45/ZR17 (front) and 235/40ZR18 (rear).

As well as race-spec suspension tuning, the first 4C special edition has additional carbon interior and exterior trim, larger wheels (18-inch front and 19-inch rear) with softer-compound Pirelli tyres, an exhaust system that is supplied without a muffler, and bi-LED lights.

It is available in two shades of red (Rosso Alfa or Rosso Competizione) and one of Madreperla white, all of which are unique to the Launch Edition.

Alcantara-patched sports bucket seats dominate the 4C’s small, sparsely equipped cabin. The leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel is devoid of controls, but a pair of shift paddles nestles behind it.

The driver can select four driving modes via Alfa’s DNA switch, mounted on the centre console – All-weather, Natural, Dynamic and Race – which will adjust throttle, electronic diff and transmission maps accordingly.

There is also a launch control function built into both Dynamic and Race modes, while engaging the latter setting completely turns off both stability and traction control.

A TFT instrument screen replaces the traditional speed and tacho dials, and features multiple modes capable of displaying performance data.

A Bluetooth audio head unit is fitted to Australian-delivered cars, as are rear parking sensors. There is no reversing camera available.

There is a 110-litre luggage bin in the rear, and a pair of small lockable ‘sleeves’ in the cabin space.

A single pair of airbags is mounted on the steering wheel and passenger-side dashboard respectively. The 4C has not yet been rated by the NCAP crash-test authority.

Alfa Romeo 4C pricing*
Coupe$89,000
Launch Edition$109,000
*Excludes on-road costs.

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