Even with all the optimism in the world, it’s impossible to be as excited about the new £45k Alfa Romeo in 2023 - the Tonale Plug-In - as it was the new £45k Alfa Romeo in 2013 - the 4C. This isn’t an SUV-bashing thread, but seldom does a decade ago seem like such ancient history (or the current new car market look so expensive) as when recalling Alfa's little sports car. What buys a Civic Type R now bought a carbon tubbed, dual-clutch sports car then - incredible.
It's easy to remember the buzz around the 4C like it was a much more recent event, too. Mostly because it was such a huge deal, the style and technology promising so much to long-suffering enthusiasts. It's hard to imagine the enthusiasm being replicated (for the moment, anyway) by the ‘zero to zero’ product pledge that will see an entirely electrified Alfa range by 2027. The 4C was precisely the car everyone thought Alfa Romeo ought to be building at that time, and probably should have been for a while: light, beautiful, innovative and fast.
Of course, despite the feverish anticipation and favourable launch reviews, the standard Alfa Romeo 4C didn’t deliver as a driver’s car. But if ever a few flaws could be overlooked, it’s in the current climate, with the two-door sports car basically extinct. Or now extremely limited and expensive to make them viable. The 4C was wayward as standard, but there are a host of well-known aftermarket specialists that have sorted the Alfa’s less favourable tendencies out. It’ll almost certainly never quite be delightful to drive as an Elise or the A110 that has replaced it in our affections, but the 4C can quite simply be made quite a bit better.
What a car you’d be left with after that, too, an Alfa still capable of drawing a crowd in any situation and with 160mph potential. Everything was there for the 4C’s success, from the badge to the price and the construction to the performance; looking back now it seems even more frustrating that Alfa didn’t quite hit the bullseye, because there’s never, ever going to be another car even remotely like it made in the future.
Ten years on, a 4C Coupe or Spider remains an intriguing alternative to the obvious lightweight sports cars. It’ll never howl like a Porsche or drive as delicately as a Lotus, but if you’ve ticked those boxes then there’s plenty in the Alfa’s favour. Rarity means it looks a safe place to put money, for starters. Even allowing for a lot of cars being specced beyond £50k, you’ll do well to find one below £40,000 now, even examples from 2014. This Coupe is a late car, first registered in 2017 and showing off the 4C’s design drama perfectly in Giallo Prototipo. With the carbon headlights and factory sports exhaust as well, it’s for sale at £47,999 with 26,000 miles.
Which is Alpine A110 money, of course. But thanks to its look and badge, the 4C seems exotic even in that company - which was always its calling card and it's almost certain to keep relative desirability high for many more years to come. If a future two-seat Alfa EV can at least retain those traits, perhaps there’ll be something to cheer for in a zero-to-zero future after all.
SPECIFICATION | ALFA ROMEO 4C
Engine: 1,742cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch auto (Alfa TCT), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 240@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@2,200rpm
0-62mph: 4.5 sec
Top speed: 161mph
MPG: 41.5mpg (NEDC combined)
Year registered: 2017
Recorded mileage: 26,000
Price new: £45,000 (2015, before options)
Yours for: £47,999
1 / 7