Alfa Romeo 4C: New polish, old tradition
The Alfa Romeo 4C is a light weight car where everything has been designed to provide total driving pleasure. That same essentiality shaped its design. The car expresses a "natural beauty" that results from a perfect blend of function and form. Its layout and size immediately brings one of the most beautiful coupés of all time to mind, the Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. Like the legendary 33 Stradale, the 4C is designed to meet extreme mechanical and functional requirements. Its body aerodynamically 'covers' the engine and chassis with clean and essential surfaces.
Designed by Alfa Romeo engineers and built at the Maserati plant in Modena, this captivating coupé with two racing bucket seats uses materials and design solutions like carbon, aluminium, and rear-wheel drive derived from the 8C Competizione along with technologies from Alfa Romeo's latest models, all thoroughly revised to maximise the new car's sporting appeal. Proof of that lies in the new 1750 Turbo Petrol engine with direct injection and aluminium block, the sophisticated latest-generation "Alfa TCT" dry twin clutch automatic transmission and the Alfa DNA driving mode selector with the brand-new Race mode.
IMAGE GALLERY: Alfa Romeo 4C
A length of approximately 4 m and a wheelbase of less than 2.4 m emphasise the car’s compact size while also accentuating its agility. The dynamic qualities of the Alfa Romeo 4C are confirmed by a weight to power ratio of less than 4 kg/HP (in base factory specification, not SA std.); it’s a value worthy of a ‘supercar’.
This vehicle quite simply screams Alfa. Its sports car soul creates unique driving sensations, both on the road and when racing, where velocity and transverse accelerations offer even the most expert driver unrivalled driving thrills: from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds flat, 258 km/h top speed, deceleration peaks in the range of 1.2 g and lateral acceleration peaks over 1.1 g. All this is also achieved with a balanced weight distribution, with 40% on the front axle and 60% on the rear.
If these figures attest to the outstanding performance and dynamic qualities of the 4C, there is one characteristic enduringly connected to every Alfa Romeo: ease in recognising one of the brand's models through other senses. Not only is it eye-catching, but the sound of the engine has also been emphasised with low frequencies and the classic roar of the exhaust.
In the same way it has been studied with particular attention paid to an enveloping seat design so the car can be 'felt'. 'Body' perceptions are felt inside and even more so - with an added thrill - at the wheel. The brake, for example, can be modulated when loaded to get the necessary feedback even in the most demanding braking situations. Steering, which has to convey as much 'feel' as possible, is unassisted, progressive and direct, and the accelerator is ready to handle exits from curves with as much acceleration as possible.
The 4C marks the launch of Alfa Romeo's global growth plan that, along with future models, is offered as a global brand that competes in the heart of the Premium market. The reason for developing synergies with the Premium brands of the Fiat-Chrysler Group, and Maserati in particular, which adds the strength of its history, its ability to innovate and its fame the world over. So in this sense the Alfa Romeo 4C supercar is a symbolic product with an extremely high level of quality and technological refinement that embodies the deepest values ??of the Alfa Romeo brand.
The annual production of the 4C Alfa Romeo on the major world markets is limited to only 3,500 units.
The compact dimensions make this two-seater truly unique among its competitors: it is just under 4m long, 1,860 mm wide, 1,180 mm high and with a wheelbase of less than 2.4 m. These dimensions serve both to emphasise the car’s 'supercar proportions' and to accentuate its agility.
Designed by Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, the development of the 4C’s exterior was characterised from the start by the need to enhance the style of the car and the technical characteristics both from a dynamic and aerodynamic point of view. For this reason, all the style solutions adopted have been optimised in accordance with the ultimate goal of the car: performance.
To meet this end, the surfaces were treated as sculpture and engineers worked side by side with the designers to carve all the innovative aerodynamic solutions out of it. The result of this teamwork led to a car that conveys pure sports style through a union of technology and beauty, which is an essential requisite for any Alfa Romeo sports car, where form is always first and foremost function. Besides, every structural element has been conceived for maximum dynamic efficiency, and to help create the down force needed to ensure maximum grip under fast cornering.
The rear volume, sinuous and enveloping, encloses and embraces the beating heart of the car: the mechanics and the engine, visible through the rear window. All this, thanks to the development of a marked muscle line above the wheels, lends strength and power to the rear area.
This supports the structure on round rear light clusters and on the side air intakes necessary to cool the intercooler and the air inlet for engine intake. From the energy-charged rear volume and the two side air intakes spring the two long muscles which lend speed and dynamism to the side, generating the necessary volume at the front end to house the headlights and, on the central part, the two robust ribs running along the bonnet, tracing the unmistakable “V” and coming to their natural conclusion around the shield. This, together with the two side intakes, forms the famous 'Trefoil', a distinguishing trait of all Alfa Romeo cars.
Even at the rear, what first appears to be an element of pure graphics actually serves a clear purpose. Look at the two lines alongside the number plate holder: aesthetically, these create two points of light that add movement and dynamism to the rear volume. Functionally, however, they also protect the light cluster from pendulum action in the event of rear impact.
The entire tail section - starting from the rear upper profile and the lower profile characterised by a large “diffuser” with aerodynamic spoiler and air outlets - was subjected to extensive wind tunnel testing to ensure the best possible aerodynamic performance.
Lastly, the exterior colour range reflects the spirit of the car and is essential as the Alfa personality demands: red, white, black and grey. However, special attention has been paid to technology with the introduction of three-layer colours. The by now consolidated and well-known Competizione Red is the essence of the Alfa Romeo spirit with its depth, shine and iridescence that shapes the volumes of the car.
Tradition and future
The Alfa Romeo 4C immediately brings to mind some of the traditional iconic models which have left a significant mark in the history of the Brand. Above all others, in terms of dimensional and layout similarities, one stands out in particular: the 33 Stradale of 1967, a car that combined extreme mechanical and functional requirements with an essential style which “clothed” the engine and chassis appropriately with unmistakable Alfa Romeo treatments.
The Alfa Romeo 4C has followed suit, and thus completes a journey which was embarked upon with the 8C Competizione, emphasising some particular concepts of the brand, such as compact size, dynamism and agility. The same search for the bare essentials has been applied to building one of the world's lightest-weight cars, the Alfa Romeo 4C. A downright search for the ideal weight led to the formula to combine 'lightness and efficiency' while exploring new solutions and materials, not to mention meticulous development work involving highly advanced technologies, in many cases coming from the excellence of Formula 1 or the aviation sector.
The combination of 'Lightness & Efficiency' was the concept behind the design of some unforgettable Alfa Romeos of the past, such as the unforgotten star at Le Mans, the 8C 2900 B Touring of 1938 with full aluminium body, or the 1900 C52 "Disco Volante" of 1952 with a top speed of 230 km/h and weighing just 760 kg.
The captivating 4C is also the vehicle with which Alfa Romeo expresses its interpretation of ‘Technology' - just like the 2010 Giulietta, the first Alfa Romeo car to adopt the TCT– and of 'Dynamism', a value that immediately brings to mind the 8C Competizione of 2007, the fastest Alfa Romeo road car in history and produced in a limited series of 500 units.
Today these values ??- Technology and Dynamism, Lightness & Efficiency, Italian Style - take shape in the new Alfa Romeo 4C, an uncompromising though accessible sports car, a technological and sensual supercar that offers precision, agility and great performance. In short, it is a car to drive and enjoy both on the road and on the track.
The interior of the Alfa Romeo 4C is the result of an in-depth study of anthropometric and ergonomic parameters that established a relationship between the sports layout of the car and features that form’ continuity’ with the design of the body. It is a design concept in which the various elements - dashboard, instruments and seats - follow specific driver and passenger usability and comfort criteria.
Definition of the interior took on particular importance when configuring the carbon fibre 'monocoque' cell. This veritable 'monolithic core' led to a rational organisation of the main construction elements in keeping with the principle of integrating parts and optimising weights. Initially focused on arranging controls and instruments so they are turned toward the driver, this approach actually simplified construction in terms of assembly processes and separation into subassemblies when industrialising the project.
The climate control system ducts are integrated with the entire dashboard block, which contains a supporting 'technical spider' structure inside the mould. Consisting of a thermoformed shell like those found on limited edition supercars, the dashboard is designed to make using functions simple and reaches its zenith in the concept of extreme driver-orientation, thanks to digital instruments and gear shift controls located on the appropriately shaped steering wheel.
The cockpit, which powerfully suggests the world of motorcycle racing and race cars, brings together all information necessary to drive and control the car. All readings are visible on the instrument panel, comprising an original digital display, containing all the control functions for the Alfa Romeo supercar.
This formal construction simplification in terms of reducing the number of components and placing the various parts in clear view meets the goal of concentrating the relationship with the car's interior on the experience of driving. User-friendly and formal importance was given to positioning the TCT transmission selector, activated by buttons on the tunnel console, the gear change levers on the steering wheel, and the DNA system selector for changing the operating parameters of the engine and the chief mechanical and electronic devices.
With regard to the selection of materials, the Alfa Romeo 4C project is a perfect synthesis of the brand's values. It is a combination of advanced technology and dynamism, sportiness and performance, and tradition and modernity. The lines, shapes, materials and colours emphasise this desire to take centre stage: the pride of being an Alfa Romeo. The material is not intended as a covering, but as an enhancement of the external and internal skin, volumes and, where possible, as a visible structure. The material is the very essence of the structure.
The aesthetic choices are based on technical and natural materials, and not appearance, but substance. The interior space is minimal and 'naked' in its treatments and finishes. The environment is dark black, embellished only by a few metal details with an aluminium effect. The real protagonist is carbon. As it is a structure, it is found both inside and outside the car in an aesthetic continuum and conveys technicality and lightness at the same time.
The seats, with a composite structure, ensure the perfect feeling of the road that the driver gets, thanks to the possibility of finding an ideal driving position while guaranteeing comfort even in everyday use. In detail, the seat upholstery ranges from technical fabrics with high performance and robust nylon yarns to natural leathers in the colours of Alfa Romeo tradition: red for sportiness and "dinamica", a polyester microfibre with a soft and adhesive touch to keep grip on the seat, as well as on the road. Also the internal ‘asphalt type’, 3D and ‘rough’ grains call the real subject matter to mind: contact with the road. Finally, the pedal unit and footboards for driver and passenger are made of aluminium, in this way highlighting its sports character down to the smallest detail.
Driving pleasure is the result of carefully balanced design. Rear wheel drive and a centrally mounted engine: the architecture of the Alfa Romeo 4C is typical of competition cars in which perfect weight distribution is the primary objective.
The Alfa Romeo 4C has rear wheel drive to make full use of the dynamic advantages afforded by this configuration. Rear wheel drive gives better grip under acceleration, when engine power throws weight towards the rear of the car. Rear wheel drive also lets you enter curves at higher speeds, delivering a far more intense driving experience.
The aluminium engine is centrally mounted. This significantly reduces weight as it eliminates the need for a propeller shaft and optimises weight distribution - 40% on the front axle and 60% on the rear - by concentrating mass near the centre for crisper handling.
Having defined the 4C's architecture, Alfa Romeo engineers started to search for the most suitable materials for this solution. Aluminium, steel, SMC and carbon fibre were chosen for their ability to combine lightness and efficiency. In this way a total dry weight of only 895 kg was achieved (Standard base factory specification). This record makes the Alfa Romeo 4C one of the lightest cars in the world.
After choosing the materials, the designers worked on all external and internal flows of the car, paying close attention to every detail necessary to decrease the creation of vortices and at the same time to ensure cooling of the engine compartment. On top of this special design of the rear and lower underbody air intakes and over 200,000 hours of optimisation in the wind tunnel and on the track were added. The final result is a Cx equal to 0.34, the best value among cars with negative lift.
The Alfa Romeo 4C achieves maximum aerodynamic efficiency levels, guaranteeing a negative Cz which, as in racing cars, contributes towards achieving increased stability at higher speeds thanks to the negative lift.
The Alfa Romeo 4C stems from a blank sheet of paper and an idea. The blank sheet of paper was a prerequisite for the conception, development and implementation of a new idea of a sports car: the "affordable supercar". In fact, the 4C is designed to be not just an exclusive car in terms of content and performance, but also to become a dream that comes true for Alfa Romeo enthusiasts all over the world. So we had to think in terms of low production volumes - but still in the order of a few thousand cars a year.
So the blank sheet of paper, initially free from design and production restraints, became immediately enriched with new parameters and new challenges. The first is represented by a reference figure not to be ignored: a supercar must have a weight-to-power ratio of less than 4 kg/HP. To achieve it, the Alfa Romeo engineers could focus on the horsepower - so much power, so much performance - but with consequent high purchase and running costs for a car that would have in this way become much less affordable. So they decided to take another route: reduce the car's weight by choosing materials that combine lightness and efficiency, and improving - at times even creating - manufacturing processes that fuse high technology and craftsmanship. A total dry weight of only 895 kg was achieved in this way. It is a record that makes the 4C one of the lightest cars in the world.
To achieve this ambitious goal, lots of work was poured into the materials utilised. They were chosen for their specific weights and for the chemical-physical, mechanical and technological properties that best meet the needs of performance and dynamic behaviour of a sports car. And this is the reason why the 895 kg of weight are mostly formed of aluminium, steel, lightened SMC and carbon fibre.
The secret of the lightness and dynamic behaviour of the Alfa Romeo 4C lies in the carbon fibre used. Today carbon fibre is the material that guarantees the best efficiency between weight and stiffness. This is why it was chosen for the monocoque with a structural function that constitutes the central self-supporting cell of the chassis. It is a solution adopted by most advanced supercars. It combines savings in weight with excellent performance. The monocoque weighs only 65 kg.
Totally designed by the team of Alfa Romeo specialists, the monocoque is produced by Adler Plastic with an innovative production process that brings together the state of the art in terms of manufacturing technologies with the manual dexterity typical of Italian craftsmen. In this way it was possible to introduce the ‘pre-preg’ technology derived from Formula 1 into a series production. Alfa Romeo is the only brand able to do this, and its production rate tops 1,000 units a year.
‘Pre-preg’ carbon fibre, processed with a vacuum bag in an autoclave, has made it possible to move on from designing the piece to designing the material. In this way the monocoque reached levels of response to stresses and dynamic behaviour unthinkable with the adoption of other technologies and materials. The pre-preg carbon fibres can be arranged in the optimal structural direction with respect to the forces to achieve a result which only a metallic material could give with superimposed layers, different thicknesses and added reinforcements.
Moreover, polymerisation in the autoclave - 'cocura' in technical terms - allows box section structures normally coming out of multiple components (often of different materials) manufactured and assembled in several phases to be produced in a single process. This is what happens for the door pillar, for example. In the standard steel version, it is composed of about 6 pieces joined together and to the body in several stages of the production process.
With the 'cocura' process, the door pillar is a single object and part of the supporting structure.
In fact, the carbon fibre monocoque is a single piece - and as such it reacts to external stresses with obvious advantages in terms of dynamic behaviour.
The use of materials with high torsional stiffness and low specific weight distinguishes all the structural components of the Alfa Romeo 4C. The use of aluminium for the roof reinforcement cage and front and rear beams is evidence of this. Both the design of the components and the manufacturing process were altered in this case as well, in order to reduce its weight and increase its rigidity. More specifically, the designers created a new section for the struts that replaces the traditional rectangular section. In this way the beams are lighter and at the same time safer. They are also produced using the innovative 'Cobapress' process. This process combines the advantages of casting with those of press forging, which further compresses aluminium alloy to close any remaining porosity. All of this lightens the component to the benefit of its mechanical properties.
The continuous wire with cold metal transfer process is used for the welding. This results in extremely precise welding that does not distort the components and ensures optimum filling of all gaps.
Aluminium is also used in the hybrid type of front brake discs, with aluminium bell and cast iron ring gear. This is technology patented by SHW and it guarantees up to 2 kg of reduced weight per disc and improved braking. Moreover, the sophisticated brushed surface finish technology increases grip and feel of the pedal, while the innovative release system between disc and bell provides more comfortable and safer braking. Special steel radial pins handle the difference in thermal expansion between cast iron and aluminium and accurately transmit the braking motion.
Sheet Moulding Compound (SMC)
SMC is used for the bodywork. It is a low-density, high-resistance composite which offers a 20% weight reduction compared to the traditional steel shell. The Alfa Romeo 4C is the first standard production vehicle with such a high percentage of low-density SMC: at just 1.5 g/cm³ it is significantly lighter than steel (~7.8 g/cm³) and aluminium (~2.7 g/cm³), as well as being more malleable. This feature granted that freedom in terms of style and design necessary to create a real Alfa Romeo recognisable at first glance. It is also a stable material which, in contrast to aluminium, does not deform in minor collisions, and is extremely resistant to chemical and atmospheric agents. It also disperses sound efficiently, increasing acoustic comfort.
Low-density SMC also ensures significant functional integration between parts, leading to a reduction in components, operations and assembly time, thus lowering production costs.
Injected polyurethane (PUR-RIM)
PUR-RIM was also chosen for the bumpers and fenders for the reasons mentioned. It is a lightweight material (-20% compared to steel) suitable for creating even highly complex design elements like a 4C fenders.
Not a single material, including glass, was neglected in order to get the lowest possible weight. In this specific case, weight was lightened by actually "slimming down" the silhouette. All the windows are on average 10% thinner than those normally used on a car so that the average weight is reduced by 15%. The windscreen is just 4 mm. This is an outstanding result, especially when we consider its particularly aerodynamic shape that is difficult to achieve with such a thin sheet of glass.
The new ‘4 cylinder’ 1750 Turbo Petrol engine featuring direct injection (200 bar) achieving performance of absolute excellence, is making its début on the Alfa Romeo 4C. Torque and specific power set new records for this size of engine at over 200 Nm/l and 137 HP/l, respectively, while maximum power of 176 kW is reached at 6,000 r/min. The maximum torque of 350 Nm ensures its extraordinary elasticity and sportiness since it is maintained constant between 2,100 and 4,000 r/min, but 80% of the torque is already available at just 1,800 r/min.
The compact supercar registers exceptional results both during launch and when accelerating. The Alfa Romeo 4C goes from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds and achieves a top speed of 258 km/h. Driving pleasure is magnified by the full, rich sound of the exhaust, where the low frequencies and classic roar have been emphasised. This impressive level of performance has been achieved with minimum impact on the environment. Thanks to multiple injection control and advanced anti-friction and energy loss reduction systems, the emissions of the Alfa Romeo 4C fall well within the strict limits of Euro 6.
Aluminium block and specific intake and exhaust systems
The Alfa Romeo 4C direct injection 1750 Turbo Petrol engine implements an innovative aluminium block and specific intake and exhaust systems which have been optimised to enhance the sports appeal of the car even further. In addition, it boasts cutting-edge technical solutions including direct fuel injection, dual continuous variable valve timing system, a turbocharger and a revolutionary scavenging control system that gets rid of any turbo lag.
In line with the search to achieve as much lightness as possible, the 4C's engine weighs 22 kg less than that of the Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde. Helping reach this goal is the aluminium block with die-cast inserts that not only is lighter, but also contributes toward improving the rigidity of the engine and reducing its vibrations (fewer vibrations were obtained also by using a crankshaft with eight counterweights, which allows the maximum rpm to be increased).
To optimise performance, emissions and oil consumption, the cylinder head intake ducts were redesigned, as were the cylinder liners, which today are made of a special cast iron that is thinner. The pistons have new segmenting with reduced load.
The Alfa Romeo 4C's advanced 'scavenging' technology maximises torque at low engine speeds and delivers more power in response to driver input. The control unit determines valve overlap times and angles with great precision to create a through-flow of air from the inlet manifold to the exhaust manifold. By improving the scavenging of the combustion chamber, this direct flow increases combustion efficiency and turbine speed and reduces turbo-lag.
To complement the 'scavenging' technology, the engine is also equipped with a new generation turbocharger and a pulse converter exhaust manifold that exploits pressure waves to boost torque at low engine speeds. The manifold and the turbine are made from microcast steel and designed to operate at very high temperatures (over 1,000°) - a pre-requisite to low fuel consumption on medium -high speed motorway journeys. The wastegate valve is another helpful device for engine efficiency. This adjusts turbo pressure using control logic which varies to suit driving conditions, minimising pumping losses.
Like all top competition cars, the Alfa Romeo 4C uses an automatic cool-down system to protect its turbocharger. Switching off the engine would normally cause the immediate stoppage of oil circulation, leaving the oil in the turbocharger to stagnate at very high temperatures. The thermal stress suffered by the oil in this way causes a loss of lubricating capacity and also leads to the formation of residues that can damage the engine. To prevent this, Alfa Romeo has introduced an after-run pump. This electric pump is automatically controlled by the ECU and keeps oil circulating through the turbocharger until it has cooled sufficiently.
Power alone could never deliver the superb performance of the Alfa Romeo 4C. An advanced transmission system is needed to control it. The 4C is equipped with an Alfa TCT 6-speed gearbox with dual dry clutch, a solution that combines the instant power of a sequential shift with all the convenience of an automatic.
A true point of reference of the category due to its low weight and extreme speed of actuation, the gears can be changed in sequential mode using the shift paddles located behind the steering wheel. In detail, the transmission works like two gearboxes in parallel, each with its own clutch. The next gear is selected while the previous gear is still engaged, eliminating all discontinuity in power transmission.
The Alfa TCT gearbox has been optimised for the Alfa Romeo supercar. The 4C's special clutch features all-new control software that ensures the fastest possible gear shifts under all conditions. Gearshifts are more aggressive in the sporting performance modes, and drivers can clearly feel the new gear engaging, as on a racing car. On bends, on the other hand, gearshifts are completed in the smoothest way possible to avoid reducing stability.
The Alfa Romeo 4C is also fitted with Launch Control for easy high performance standing starts. Launch Control is activated by pressing the brake pedal while pushing the accelerator pedal all the way down and squeezing the paddle on the left of the steering wheel. As soon as you release the brake, the system automatically controls the gearbox, traction and power to maximise acceleration.
The Alfa Romeo 4C offers even the most expert driver extraordinary performance and sensations: from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds, 258 km/h top speed, deceleration peaks in the range of 1.2 g and lateral acceleration peaks over 1.1 g. All this is also achieved with a balanced weight distribution, with 40% on the front axle and 60% on the rear.
Something else that is essential is keeping the unsuspended mass as low as possible. In a hypothetical run around the track, it is necessary to ensure that the wheels grip the terrain for as long as possible, which is to the full benefit of road-holding and the longitudinal and transverse accelerations.
If these principles bring about the excellent dynamic qualities of the 4C, there is one characteristic enduringly connected to every Alfa Romeo: ease in recognising one of the brand's models through other senses. So it is not only eye-catching, but the sound of the engine - which has been emphasised with low frequencies and the classic roar of the exhaust - and the enveloping seat designed so that the driver 'feels' the car also create its unique identity.
'Body' perceptions are felt inside and even more so - with an added thrill - at the wheel. The brake, for example, can be modulated when loaded to get the necessary feedback even in the most demanding braking situations. Steering, which has to convey as much 'feel' as possible is unassisted, progressive and 'genuine', and the accelerator is ready to handle exits from curves with as much acceleration as possible.
Like all the latest-generation Alfa Romeos, the 4C as well is equipped with the DNA selector. This device lets the driver change the car's temperament to adapt it to the conditions it is subjected to at the moment.
In addition to the three settings available up until today - Dynamic, Natural and All Weather - the Alfa Romeo supercar has a fourth mode: 'Race', designed to enhance the driving experience on a track even further.
Race is the most extreme performance mode, and is engaged by moving the mode selector to 'Dynamic' position and holding it there for 5 seconds. Alfa Race mode puts you in total control of your car under race conditions. By minimising the interventions of electronic systems, it leaves you, the driver, in complete control. In this situation, ESC stability control remains inactive and only intervenes to ensure stability under harsh braking. ASR does not intervene either on the acceleration or braking, leaving you to control traction through the accelerator pedal alone. Alfa's Q2 electronic differential control system, on the other hand, remains active, as it is essential to permitting fast exits from bends.
Performance changes with the 'Dynamic' mode, which configures the car to deliver great driving performance. Engine control parameters are configured to respond quickly to accelerator input and the Alfa TCT gearbox selects a rapid action program to reduce gear shift times by up to 25%. The ESC system permits a certain angle of drift and only intervenes if steering wheel position and drift angle could put the car at risk.
Press the Alfa DNA selector to switch to 'Natural' mode, designed for everyday use. Gearshift parameters are configured for maximum comfort and smoothness. In manual mode, the Alfa TCT transmission makes up for loss of driver concentration. The Auto-Up function shifts up to the next gear when engine speed approaches the permitted limit, while the Auto-Down function shifts down as soon as engine speed falls below 1,000 r/min. Finally, the Alfa Q2 differential operates in soft mode and only cuts in if one of the rear wheels suffers a significant loss of grip.
Finally, all you have to do is switch the selector to 'All Weather' mode to ensure maximum safety under adverse weather conditions. With this setting the car responds gently to accelerator input. The ASR system selects special engine and brake control logic and, in the event of loss of grip, modifies power to match road speed and prevent skidding that could otherwise be difficult to control.
In addition to its absolute performance, the handling of the Alfa Romeo 4C makes it one of a kind. You can fully enjoy the car in all situations, and not only during extreme use on the track, thanks to its feel and ease of driving at top levels. Sport suspensions, self-ventilated brake discs, different diameter tyres and direct steering: an advanced ride control system able to keep weight down to a minimum has been designed for the 4C.
The suspension adopts race-derived technical solutions to optimise performance and deliver unrivalled driving pleasure. A superimposed wishbone system is used on the front of the Alfa Romeo 4C. The wishbones are secured directly on the monocoque and comprise a coaxial spring-shock absorber assembly, tubular control arms and anti-roll bar, all lightweight and efficient.
An advanced MacPherson geometry has been adopted on the rear to ensure superb road holding and driving fun, even in the most extreme manoeuvres. More specifically, the set-up of the suspension has been improved with the side-load spring and the support plate of the shock absorber spring at the same time forming the upper constraint of the strut. In this way, both height from ground and weight have been reduced, all to the benefit of grip and precision, even at high speeds.
The braking system of the Alfa Romeo 4C excels in terms of effectiveness and reliability, even in the most extreme driving conditions. The car can be braked from 100 to 0 km/h in just 36 m thanks to the hybrid self-ventilating, perforated discs complete with Brembo calipers on the front with aluminium bell and cast iron ring gear. This technology patented by SHW, guarantees up to 2 kg of reduced weight per disc and improved braking. Moreover, the sophisticated brushed surface finish technology increases grip and feel of the pedal, while the innovative release system between disc and bell provides more comfortable and safer braking. Special steel radial pins handle the difference in thermal expansion between cast iron and aluminium and accurately transmit the braking motion.
Different diameter tyres
The search for the greatest possible grip also led to the selection of different diameter tyres, 17"-18" or optional 18"-19", larger on the back to satisfy the need for greater grip on the axle where the traction works.
The 4C’s non-power assisted steering with plasticised links contributes to limiting the total weight of the car and ensures a direct driving feeling for the driver. The steering ratio (16.2) is also such as to allow 90% of bends to be taken without ever taking your hands off the steering wheel.
Alfa Romeo decided to produce the 4C supercar at the Maserati plant in Modena, where it set up the 4C Workshops with areas dedicated to the 'bodyshell' and 'assembly' operations. The 'testing' and 'finishing' areas, on the other hand, are shared with Maserati production. Here, the focus is always on evolved technology and top quality craftsmanship, a combination that leads to the production of cars that are truly unique in technical solutions and attention to detail.
'Gems' of technology and styling like the Quattroporte, Granturismo and Grancabrio have come off these lines in just the last decade, as did the fascinating Alfa Romeo 8C even more recently. It was the first time that the Maserati plant opened up its doors to another brand, one particularly similar to Maserati in terms of tradition and ambition.
Considering the past and recent background, it was natural that the Fiat Group would look to Modena for the standard production of the Alfa Romeo 4C, too. It is a car that starting from its structure comes out of the blend of the highest technology and the most meticulous attention that only man can guarantee. This is a manufacturing philosophy that is an integral part of the DNA of the Maserati plant in Modena.
Here innovation first of all blends together with the passion of the people, which manifests itself in rigour and the determination to do a good job. It is precisely the operator's touch that adds value to the product, and so much so that the operating methods of this plant are far removed from the logic of 'mass production' to enter into a definitely more handmade dimension. Suffice it to say that the minimum 'takt time’ – the production speed necessary to guarantee delivery – is 20 minutes. This figure illustrates the peculiarity of this factory when compared to the “mass production plants” where the shortest ‘takt time’ is in the order of 50 seconds.
The fundamental role played by human talent, considered as the wealth of technical skills and craftsmanship, becomes clear at this point. They are all very young men and women, expert operators, with an average age of 29 and of whom 60% hold a diploma or university degree, and whose experience is on the average over 5 years on Maserati models. These people make up a true elite of production professionals who can work with full knowledge even on 40 different stations and perform activities requiring from 20 to 40 minutes. This means they are fully rounded mechanics who practically master the entire production flow.
This is where the primary structure of the Alfa Romeo 4C is assembled, first creating the body in white of the car, and then putting on the preliminary 'skins'. In taking a closer look, the operators at station 10 of the line join the carbon fibre monocoque to the two chassis, front and rear, and to the cross members. It is an operation done by hand, and during the entire process compliance of parameters like the 'angle torque' of the fastenings, guaranteeing that the connected components stay forever joined even in the most demanding conditions of use, is checked.
Further on, the cell of the car is closed by fitting the windscreen frame and roof. The peculiarity of this operation lies in the special templates used to give the passenger compartment cell the right geometry. The joints are made of high-tech chemical polymer materials and are reinforced with mechanical joints.
Once the bodyshell stage is completed, the Alfa Romeo 4C body-in-white faces quality control in the metrological room. Every day a few bodies are taken as samples to undergo highly precise measurement. The dedicated team checks more than 400 measurement points to ensure that the body is perfect on the geometric and dimensional level. No room is left for tolerance in this process: the measurements have to give results compliant with the project.
Painting and Assembly
The stage following the bodyshell stage is painting. It is the only process that is performed outside the Maserati plant. Once they have been painted, the bodies in white return 'to be circulated' on the Alfa Romeo 4C. One point must be stressed: the new compact supercar is the only car that starts its assembly phase with 'disassembly'. In fact, before assembling the internal components at station 1, the car returns to its primary structure by removing the already painting 'skins', like the bonnet and doors, and the structural parts, like the rear beams and dome bar. It is only at this point that it is fastened to the rotating carrier.
The professional expertise of the operator is at the heart of the entire process in this area. That is why the work station and the entire logistics system have been built around the operators' activities. All the components needed to produce the 4C arrive at the various stations in the right quantities, at the right place, and at the right time. The car is lifted or turned to always offer the side where operations are carried out at the right height. All this guarantees quality and offers the technicians the chance to practise their manual dexterity in the best possible way.
Also operations like window assembly, carried out by robots elsewhere, are given over to the care and attention of people. This as well is an exclusive peculiarity of the 4C production process. And that’s not all. Many of the subassemblies of the car - lights and dashboard, for example - are assembled here at the factory. These are all aspects that make a profound impact on the perceived and real quality of the finished product.
Testing area, road testing and finishing
Testing is the only stage of the production process entrusted to technology since it is necessary to objectify the quality of performance. The systems rigorously check every single detail of the car, from optimum operation of the climate control system to the setting of the mechanical components and dynamic behaviour.
After they have passed the testing area, all the 4Cs produced undergo a 40 km road test driven by an expert test driver. This is another practice typical of the most prestigious supercars. The team of test drivers is a major point of pride for the plant. All team members are expert drivers, passionately about sports driving and racing, and are exemplary professionals.
The production flow of the Alfa Romeo 4C almost reaches the end when the cars arrive at the Finishing area, where they undergo the final set-up operations before moving on to commercial logistics to go onto the market.
Mopar accessories and merchandising products
Mopar has made a large number of accessories for the Alfa Romeo 4C that harmoniously blend with the technical and styling features of this supercar. The optional extras sold by Mopar in the aftermarket include the 18"-19" larger wheels, racing exhaust tailpipe or racing set-up - including rear anti-roll bar and springs, shock absorbers and front anti-roll bar with specific calibration - that can be matched with race tyres specially developed with Pirelli.
Along with the collaboration of the Alfa Romeo Centro Stile, Mopar has come up with an exclusive merchandising collection inspired by the compact 4C supercar.
Alfa Romeo sales and service
The Alfa Romeo 4C is sold and serviced through seven dedicated dealerships country-wide; Gary Green Auto and Century City, Cape Town, Arnold Chatz Cars, Johannesburg, McCarthy Wonderboom, Pretoria, NMI Umhlanga, Maritime Motors, Port Elizabeth and Spesbona in Windhoek, Namibia.
The 4C retails for R870 000 and comes standard with a three year or 100,000 km warranty and maintenance plan.