Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe and Spider review - it may look like a miniature supercar, but does it drive like one? - Engine and gearbox

With a carbon fibre chassis, unassisted steering and those looks, how can the 4C fail to impress?

Evo rating
Price
from £53,255
  • Incredible looks and an exotic chassis
  • Steering, engine, steering, cabin quality and steering

Engine and gearbox

Controversially, the Alfa makes do with a turbocharged in-line 4 cylinder. Rather than spend their money on an exotic engine, Alfa opted for a more ordinary powertrain then spent the remaining money on a fancy carbon fibre chassis. Immediately, after starting the engine, it certainly seems like this may have been a mistake. Rather than a pleasant sound, the exhaust emits a droning noise that’s just slightly too loud.

The engine doesn’t behave like a modern turbocharged engine either. The no nonsense, undramatic, linear delivery from really low-down in the rev range that we’re used to from modern turbocharged engines, does not characterise the 1750cc unit in the 4C. The Alfa’s engine needs 3200rpm before it seems to wake up. After that though, it really begins to pull.

The noise from the exhaust remains droney and antisocial, but as the revs rise, there’s a whooshing from the turbocharger and then chirps from the wastgates on a closed throttle. It might not be the most sophisticated engine, but there is an old-school charm to it’s overtly turbocharged nature.

With every gearshift, there’s a flatulent exclamation from the exhaust. Thankfully though, the gearbox is responsive and the up and down shifts happen relatively quickly. Each change isn’t as clear and defined as the best double-clutch transmissions, but it’s never frustrating or obtrusive. The ratios are nicely judged too, each gear keeps the turbo on-boost nicely.

With the ‘box left in it’s auto mode, it seems to always choose one ratio too low. However, it might only seem this way because the tuneless engine begins to grate as the revs increase, and you seek any way of reducing the noise.

Most Popular

M-Sport’s Fiat Panda is a 300bhp rally car
M-Sport Fiat Panda rally
Fiat Panda

M-Sport’s Fiat Panda is a 300bhp rally car

This Fiat Panda 4x4 has been transformed into an all-out rally car by motorsport firm M-Sport
7 Dec 2021
'I always feel a fizz excitement at putting a car key in my pocket, walking outside and driving away'
Dickie Meaden opinion
Opinion

'I always feel a fizz excitement at putting a car key in my pocket, walking outside and driving away'

Meaden might think he’d fallen out of love with cars, but for one thing…
7 Dec 2021
Car pictures of the week
Tolman Peugeot 205 GTI
Peugeot 205 GTi hatchback

Car pictures of the week

In this week’s car pictures from issue 292, we look at the highlights from Adam Towler’s drive in the Tolman Peugeot 205 GTI
3 Dec 2021