The 2018 Alfa Romeo 4C checks a lot of boxes on the exotic sports car wish list: It's from Italy, its engine is behind the seats, the chassis is a carbon-fiber monocoque, and the entire car weighs less than 2,500 pounds. The 4C also uses rack-and-pinion steering — with no power assist. That particular cutting-edge automotive technology showed up in, oh, the 1930s. But having it in a 2018 car when everything else has numb-feeling, electric-assist racks is almost a revelation.
In the 4C, manual steering both saves weight and provides greater feedback to the driver, and this car is all about lightness and feedback. The engine shouts right in your ear, the suspension communicates every minuscule imperfection in the road, and the minimally padded seats make sure you feel every vibration. This raw, unfiltered driving experience is both what makes the Alfa a unique standout among modern cars and what makes it an unlivable daily driver. The 4C is definitely a second — or maybe third — car.
For the money, there are plenty of engaging sports cars that are significantly easier to live with (you know, if you don't have a garage big enough for a small fleet). The Porsche 718 Cayman and 718 Boxster, the Chevrolet Corvette, and the Jaguar F-Type are all exceptional driver's cars. All have their strengths and weaknesses, but they're all more comfortable and more practical.
The 2018 Alfa Romeo 4C should only be considered by buyers willing to live with the inherent day-to-day difficulties of driving a seriously hardcore mid-engine sports car. Its no-frills attitude is reflected in its skimpy list of standard and optional features. After all, more features make for a heavier car, and the 4C is all about keeping the weight down. If you should want a few extras, the Convenience package adds a few luxury elements, the Track package includes performance upgrades, and the Carbon Fiber Interior Trim package is self-explanatory.
The 4C is powered by a turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine (237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque) paired to a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. Standard equipment for the coupe includes a 17-inch (front) and 18-inch (rear) wheels, summer performance tires, LED running lights and taillights, heated mirrors, air conditioning, power accessories, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 7-inch driver information display, Bluetooth connectivity, and an Alpine sound system with a CD player, a USB port and satellite and HD radio. The 4C convertible also has a manually operated soft top, leather seats and an alarm system.
The leather seats are optional on the coupe, and leather seats with faux suede upholstery are available on both body styles. An optional Convenience package adds rear parking sensors, cruise control and, for the coupe, an alarm system. The Track package includes a more stiffly tuned suspension, available 18-inch (front) and 19-inch (rear) wheels, a flat-bottom steering wheel and additional carbon-fiber exterior trim. Additional carbon-fiber styling elements are included with the Carbon Fiber Interior Trim package. Notable stand-alone options include xenon headlights, a subwoofer, a carbon-fiber roof, a sport exhaust and an Akrapovič dual-mode exhaust.