Alfa Romeo 2014

Alfa Romeo made a quiet exit from the U.S. nearly 20 years ago. Despite some iconic roadsters and a sporty sedan, Alfas were reliably unreliable and weren't especially cheap to buy in the first place. The Italian automaker, owned by Fiat, will try its hand at the U.S. market again, this time with the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C, A light body over front double wishbones and a rear strut suspension promises exceptional handling, and the 4C offers two staggered tire packages: either 17-inch tires up front with 18s in back, or 18s in front and 19s in back. A Brembo brake package will also be available, in addition to a race package with more aggressive tires and suspension settings.


The Italians somehow extract 173kW from a 1.7-litre turbo four-cylinder engine. VW wrings 162kW from the GTI's 2.0 turbo. Most mod-cons are covered in the Giulietta but Alfa makes satnav a plug-in option that sits atop the dash (it's standard on the new Golf GTI and Focus ST), and there is no factory-fitted rear view camera. Wireless Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard but Bluetooth audio is not; the device has to connect via a USB port.


The interior is roomy and functional, though not as beautiful as the exterior. Seat trim is a stylishly textured yet hard-wearing material. The air vents are a little small for quickly cooling the cabin on hot days and a digital speed display would be a welcome addition in the screen next to the analog speedometer, especially given the wide speed needle covers about 5km/h worth of increments. The boot is roomier than the Giulietta's sleek proportions suggest (350L; the Golf's is 380L) and there is good headroom front and rear.


Six airbags and a five star Euro NCAP safety rating will protect you if the worst happens. A well sorted chassis and suspension tune, good brakes and plenty of  grip will hopefully prevent that. Rear parking sensors are standard but a rear camera would be welcome. They're fast becoming standard on most new cars these days and its absence was noticeable.