The Numbers

1.75-litre turbo 4-cyl, 179kW, 350Nm, 895kg, 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds, 257km/h, 6.8L/100km, 159g CO2/100km

The Topgear Verdict

Looks great, goes around corners great. In essence, it's like a much sexier, slightly more practical version of a Lotus.

2014 Alfa Romeo 4C

So, it's a new Alfa Romeo - don't they just make fairly ordinary hot hatches these days?

Well, yes. But the launch of the fantastic 4C will sprinkle a Disney-sized amount of magic dust on a range that is currently made up of the baby Mito and the teenager-sized Giulietta, neither of which really set the world on fire in terms of driving dynamics, but they look and sound nice, as you would expect from Alfa.

So what's so exciting about the 4C?

For a start, it looks like a Ferrari has had sex with a Fiat. The 4C is one of those cars that was born as a concept car and made Italians scratch their swarthy beards and mutter "if only they'd actually build it", and then, to everyone's surprise, they did. Adding to the excitement is the fact that this will be the first Alfa ever built that won't rust, because it's built on an all carbon-fibre monocoque with plastic panels. A very expensive, and very Italian, solution to an age-old problem.

A carbon-fibre tub, but don't only supercars have those?

Correct, until now you'd have to buy a McLaren to get that kind of super lightweight technology - the 4C weighs just 895kg as a result - but while it looks like a supercar on the spec sheet, this Alfa is being touted as an affordable vehicle. Like cheaper than a Porsche Cayman affordable. In Australia, the 4C will cost just $75,000 for the basic version and $100,000 for the Launch Edition, which comes with more fruity bits. It's no wonder they're already holding more than 80 orders, and they've stopped taking more.

So what's it like to drive? As good as it looks?

Well, it's one of the lightest cars in the world, with a mid-mounted 1.75-litre turbo engine making 175kW and 350Nm, for a 0 to 100km/h time of 4.5 seconds - the same as a manual Porsche 911 Carrera S - so it's fast, and it handles. Indeed, its chassis is so fabulous, light and super stiff, that you can really throw it into corners with abandon and it will just tuck in, rip out and save the day. In essence, it's like a much sexier, slightly more practical version of a Lotus.

Any negatives?

Well, they might be committing sacrilege, calling a vehicle with a four-cylinder engine a supercar. And it doesn't sound like one, indeed, it sounds a bit like a tractor running over a vacuum cleaner at times, with lots of deep, rattling barking sounds combined with more turbo woosh and woofle than a WRX club meeting. Surprisingly, it sounds sexy and supercar-ish from outside. The steering, which is entirely mechanical and unassisted, is also too light, most of the time, although it does weight up nicely at track speeds.

Should I buy one?

Just look at these pictures again. Need you ask? It's a fantastic thing for the price. This may be a particularly Italian solution, but you should find someone who's on the waiting list and put a horse in their bed. Pronto.

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Reviewed by: Stephen Corby

Driven: September 24, 2013