If finally makes good on its promise to re-enter the U.S. market, one of the most exciting models in the Italian automaker's future lineup will be the 4C sports car, seen here almost completely devoid of disguise. Scheduled to appear in production form next year, most likely during the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, the 4C is intended to be an affordable halo car for the Alfa Romeo brand. Unlike the discontinued and hugely expensive 8C Competizione supercar, which carried a -like price in excess of $200,000 per copy, the 4C is expected to fall in the region of $55,000 to $65,000. That will be quite an achievement, considering the platform is new and looks to make extensive use of lightweight components, such as aluminum and carbon fiber.
The 4C project is not part of Alfa Romeo's ongoing collaboration with Mazda to develop the next-generation MX-5 Miata and Spyder. Those upcoming 2-seat roadsters will be far less expensive and have their engines mounted in the front. It's not impossible that some of the technology used in the 4C – especially related to its lightweight construction – could make its way to the Miata and Spyder, however. But generally speaking, the 4C will be targeting more upmarket vehicles, such as the and .
Concept to Production
The transformation from non-running show car to production model appears to be virtually seamless, the black prototype shown here looks remarkably like the 4C Concept which debuted in 2011. If anything, the test mule in these photos looks even more aggressive than the concept, thanks to its slightly more aggressive front fascia and (what appear to be) larger side air intakes. Seating is strictly limited to only two, as you'd expect in a lithe sports car, and Alfa Romeo will almost certainly offer the 4C in both coupe and convertible formats. Forming the basic structure of the car is a carbon fiber tub, originally developed in cooperation with Dallara, a manufacturer of IndyCar chassis. At the time of the 4C Concept's introduction, Alfa Romeo promised this platform would be simple and affordable for volume production – sales were originally pegged at 1,500 units annually.
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Powering the 4C is a turbocharged 1.7-liter inline-4 found in various other Alfa vehicles. Output should be in the region of 235 bhp, and power will be routed to the rear wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Overall weight is targeted at less than 2,000 lbs. – the 4C Concept weighed in at a scant 1,850 lbs. Achieving that goal won't be easy, especially when you consider a small roadster like the MX-5 Miata weighs approximately 2,400 lbs. Though an even greater challenge could simply be getting Alfa Romeo to make good on its long-delayed promise to sell cars in the U.S. We're hopeful the 4C coupe and convertible will provide the necessary jolt to get the Italian brand back stateside.