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2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

The 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a rarity. It is among a few crossover sport utility vehicles that openly disdain their category because they are all about extremist performance.

Yet because of the public infatuation with crossovers, it is almost a given that increasing, and increasingly expensive, numbers of them will be equipped almost like road-racing cars. Think Mercedes-Benz AMG models, BMW M crossovers and Audi’s Sport Division offerings.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

The Stelvio Quadrifoglio goes bumper-to-bumper against those as well as more expensive exotics like the Aston-Martin DBS and Lamborghini Urus,

Italy’s Alfa Romeo is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It has been working to build the brand in the U.S., starting with the 4C coupe and roadster, which were more suited to a race course than cityscapes. Then the company followed with the exciting Giulia compact sedan.

For the 2018 model year, FCA delivered the Stelvio, which basically was a crossover version of the Giulia. The name is taken from the highest pass in the Italian Alps mountains, where there are 48 hairpin turns over 12 miles of highway.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING

The Stelvio comes in six trim levels, starting with the base rear-wheel drive model at just shy of $42,000, and advancing through the Stelvio Sport RWD, Ti all-wheel drive, Ti Lusso AWD, Ti Sport and the tested Quadrifoglio (the name is Italian for four-leaf clover). The Ti Sport and Quadrifoglio come only with all-wheel drive.

What distinguishes the Quadrifoglio from its lesser brethren is its twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 engine, which delivers 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. It enabled Car and Driver magazine, in an instrumented test, to nail 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and 100 mph in 8.8 seconds, with a governed top speed of 176 mph.

Though there’s hardly anywhere you can do that — at least without ending up in a jail somewhere — Alfa Romeo thoughtfully provided a race mode and Brembo racing brakes for weekend track use. There also are driver adjustable dynamic, normal and advanced efficiency (economy) modes.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING

There’s a stop-start system, ostensibly to improve fuel economy, rated by the EPA at 17/23/19 mpg in city/highway/combined driving. Fortunately, it can be turned off.

The track mode must be set up separately. If you switch to it while plying the public roads, it defaults to dynamic, which provides performance shift mapping with suspension and shock absorber tuning. It delivers a stiffer ride, punishing on some surfaces, especially combined with the hard and well-bolstered sport seats. Best to use the normal mode, a good combination for everyday driving.

An eight-speed automatic transmission sends the power to all four wheels, where the all-wheel drive system is rear-wheel biased for better handling and cornering, although it can also send up to 60% of the power to the front wheels, depending on conditions.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING

The transmission can be shifted manually with large paddles mounted on the steering column. Because they are fixed, the driver always knows where they are, even when the steering wheel is cranked one way or the other. It’s so efficient it’s a wonder that all shift paddles are not so located.

Inside, the Quadrifoglio is all about the business of driving. With the racing seats and some plastic trim here and there, it comes up a bit short on luxury. But it is as well-equipped as any sport/luxury vehicle.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

The base price of $81,390 includes full safety and power equipment, though the cruise control is not of the adaptive type. Few would take it off road, yet it comes with hill descent control. Options that included a special $2,000 paint job, along with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, brought the tested price up to $84,890.

There is adequate seating for four passengers with decent head and knee room for the outboard rear passengers. There is a center seat but forget about it. With a giant floor hump and intrusion of the center console, it is not usable.

One drawback: the backseat headrests block visibility to the rear  quarters through the inside mirror, so it’s important to get the side mirrors adjusted properly to eliminate blind spots. For those who don’t or won’t do that, blind-spot warning is standard.The cargo area, with 19 cubic feet of space, is nicely upholstered and includes adjustable tie-downs to secure luggage during the inevitable temptation to engage in spirited driving.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING

Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 2.9-liter V6, twin turbochargers; 505 hp, 443 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 5 inches.
  • Height: 5 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 97/19 cubic feet. (57)
  • Weight: 4,360 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/23/19 mpg. Premium fuel required.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $81,390.
  • Price as tested: $84,890.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio NRING

Photos (c) Alfa Romeo

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Maserati and Alfa Romeo What’s New Event: A DriveWays Review

by Frank A. Aukofer

Pontiac, Mich. — Call it a candy store for car nuts. Every summer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles invites a jumble of journalists to its proving grounds in Chelsea, Mich., to drive all the new Ram truck, Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models. It’s an intense one-day event.

But this year, the company added a day to focus on two of its lesser-known but very expensive brands: Maserati and Alfa Romeo of Italy. That event was conducted at the M1 Concourse, a private facility in downtown Pontiac that includes a 1.5-mile road racing track.

It was a day of alternating heavy thunderstorms, cloudy weather and bright sunshine. Undaunted, the attendees drove Maserati and Alfa Romeo models on street drives, the racetrack and an autocross course. Exclusive on the autocross was Alfa’s 4C, a mid-engine two-seat sports roadster without power steering that has a starting price of $67,495.

Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can be shifted manually. With a curb weight of just 2,467 lbs, it’s quick.

But the 4C is a twitchy beast, so loud an occupant cannot hear the expensive audio system. Some critics, including this one, consider it to be a terribly awkward conveyance. But it also has a devoted band of followers who love it for — who knows?

Way more civilized was the Maserati Gran Turismo, a high-performance ultra-luxury four-seat convertible powered by a 454-hp, 4.7-liter V8 engine with 384 lb-ft of torque. With rear-wheel drive, it has a six-speed automatic transmission with five selectable driving modes.

There are two versions in either coupe or convertible form: Convertible MC (for Maserati Corse), which starts at $166,575, including the destination charge. The Sport starts  at $154,075. Each price includes a $1,700 federal gas guzzler tax. Zero to 60 mph times are less than five seconds.

Also available for track driving was the Maserati Quattroporte sedan, which offers six models ranging in price from $109,675 to $140,975. They are powered by either of two engines: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 424 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 with 523 hp and 524 lb-ft of torque. All versions use an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Other Maserati lines were the smaller Ghibli sedan and the Levante crossover sport utility vehicle. Each comes in six different versions. The Ghibli’s prices range from $76,475 to $89,275, including destination charges. The Levante starts at $77,475 and runs up to the top-line Trofeo model at $171,475.

Ghibli models have a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine. Lower trim levels get 345 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. More expensive models have 369 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed automatic that can be shifted manually.

Levante all-wheel-drive crossovers offer a 3.0-liter turbo V6 with either 345 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque or 414 horsepower and 438 pound-feet of torque. The bad boy on the block, however, is the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 with 550 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. All versions use an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode.

More familiar to aficionados, mainly because of more publicity, were the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan and the Stelvio crossover sport utility vehicle. Depending on the version, both are offered with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The Giulia, which competes with the 3-Series BMW, Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, comes in 11 different trim levels, five with rear-drive and seven with all-wheel drive. Prices range from $39,440 for the base rear-drive Giulia up to $75,245 for the superb all-wheel drive Quadrifoglio (Italian for four-leaf clover).

Lower trim levels are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque. The Quadrifoglio is equipped with a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

Think of the Stelvio hatchback as a taller version of the Giulia. It uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the Giulia, and the Quadrifoglio model has the 2.9-liter V6. Prices range from $41,440 for the base rear-drive version up to $81,590 for the all-wheel drive Quadrifoglio. Transmissions are eight-speed automatics with manual-shift modes.

With the resulting publicity from the event in Pontiac, Mich., no doubt at least some buyers with deep pockets or high credit ratings will become aware of the plush and high-performing Maserati Levante crossover and the company’s other offerings. The same should be true for the better-known Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio.

Neither vehicle line has had a huge impact in the U.S. marketplace so far. In 2017, Alfa Romeo stores sold a total of 12,031 vehicles, including 407 4Cs, 8,903 Giulias and 2,271 Stelvios. Maserati’s total was 13,697, including 8,249 cars and 5,448 Levante crossovers.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

Photos (c) FCA North America.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reinforces its incursion into the luxury/performance class with the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

It is part of a determined push to rebuild the storied Italian brand. It started with the 4C coupe and roadster, continued with the Giulia compact sedan and now takes on high-end crossover SUVs: Porsche Macan, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Jaguar F-Pace, Lexus NX, and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Sport

The Stelvio, named for the highest mountain pass in the Italian Alps where 12 highway miles encompass 48 hairpin turns, is a crossover version of the Giulia. They share the same wheelbase—the distance between the front and rear axles—though the Stelvio is two inches longer at 15 feet 5 inches.

Like its sibling, the Stelvio is a stellar performer with quick throttle response, rapid acceleration, precise steering and accurate handling. For now, it comes in two versions, both with a 280-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 306 lb-ft of torque, enough to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with a top speed of 144 mph, according to Alfa Romeo’s specifications.

The company markets the Stelvio as a midsize crossover but its size belies that. It fits into the EPA’s “small” classification, which includes small and medium-sized SUVs like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Kia Sportage

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport

Moreover, its 89 cubic feet of passenger volume actually is less than the Giulia’s 94 cubic feet, though the Stelvio has a larger cargo area of 39 cubic feet compared to the Giulia’s trunk of 13 cubic feet.

There’s plenty of space up front and, on the tested Ti Sport model, beautifully bolstered leather sport seats. But the back seat passengers do not fare as well. In the outboard seats, head and knee room are tight and the seatbacks do not recline. The center-rear position is cramped and nearly unusable.

But the Stelvio is biased toward sport. It has a 50/50 front and rear weight distribution, and the standard all-wheel-drive system can automatically shift 100% of the power to the rear wheels for optimum performance. In nasty weather conditions, the system can send 60% of the power to the front wheels.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport

Road clearance is 8.1 inches, which provides some confidence in the unlikely event an owner ventures off-road. But the Stelvio has no other boondocks assists. It is first and foremost a roadie, competing in what currently is the hottest segment of the market from popular-priced to big-bucks luxury.

It offers three driving modes, controlled by a knob on the center console: Dynamic; natural; and advanced efficiency. The last enhances fuel economy by, among other things, shifting the 8-speed automatic transmission at lower engine revolutions.

The natural setting is slightly more aggressive. But the dynamic setting is the choice for maximum performance, including shifts at higher revs, quicker response to throttle inputs, tighter steering, enhanced braking and driver-oriented stability control.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport

Both the base Stelvio and the upscale Ti can be ordered as Sport versions, the main difference being large aluminum paddles mounted on the steering column to manually shift the automatic transmission. Though every Stelvio can be manually shifted, only the Sport versions get the paddles.

None of this, as might be expected, comes cheap. The base Stelvio has a starting price of $42,990, which includes leather upholstery, power seats for the driver and front passenger, automatic climate control, remote locking and a power lift gate. Add $1,800 for the Sport version and you get the paddle shifters. There’s also a luxury-oriented Ti Lusso.

The tested Ti Sport model started at $47,490. With options that included adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, automatic-high headlight beams, auto-dimming mirrors and an infrared-heated windshield, the tester’s bottom line came to $55,240.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport

Other than the usual question mark about Italian build quality and whether the Stelvio will deliver a confident owner experience, there are a few quibbles with the opening act: The tight back seat with no reclining seatbacks, a cheesecloth-like sunroof shade and a fussy navigation system whose traveling instructions underway block the trip odometer.

Enthusiasts with plenty of bucks await next year’s debut of the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, analogous to the sedan of the same name, which sports a V6 engine with 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That Stelvio should hit the showrooms with a price above $80,000.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport

Specifications

  • Model: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 280 hp, 306 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume:
  • Weight: 4,004 lbs.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/28/24 mpg. Premium fuel required.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $47,490.
  • Price as tested: $55,240.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Lusso

Photos (c) Alfa Romeo.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Talk about polar opposites. The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia is everything its previously introduced garage-mate, the 4C, is not.

First, however, we must stipulate that the two models from the storied Italian manufacturer share one thing: gorgeous styling. Italian designers always have had a flair for sensuous curves.

Beyond that the two cars are way different. The 4C is a two-seat, rear-drive sports coupe or convertible that fills the cabin with raucous noise, rides hard, is strenuous to enter and exit, with manual steering that delivers darting handling, and no amenities like pushbutton starting or cruise control.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti

Yet despite its near $70,000 price tag, it is loved by some enthusiasts for its looks and performance on smooth racetracks.

The new Giulia—at least in the top-line Quadrifoglio trim, could not be more different. It is the essence of sophistication and stirring performance: a four-door sports sedan in the mold of the BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

Alfa Romeo, part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is attempting a comeback after more than two decades absent from the U.S. market. It started with 4C and now brings the Giulia, which is being offered in two versions: the $38,990 standard and the tested Quadrifoglio, which starts at $73,595.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti

For those who care about translations, Giulia is Italian for Julia and Quadrifoglio means four-leaf clover. You can’t miss the big green clover emblem on the flanks of the front fenders. Alfa stands for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, which translates into Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company, which was founded in 1910.

The main distinguishing characteristic of the Quadrifoglio is its refinement. Slide into its well-bolstered driver’s seat, which hugs the torso for spirited high-speed driving around curves, slip it into gear in the normal driving mode and you can traipse about town as if you were lazily cruising in a Hyunda Elantra, Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

But just forward of your feet lurks explosive power from a 505-horsepower V6 engine with twin turbochargers that delivers 443 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. It can be manually shifted with two giant paddles mounted on the steering column—not the wheel itself—so you always know where they are.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

That means you can, as they used to say, suck the doors off almost anything on the road in a drag race. Top speed, according to the company, is 191 miles an hour, and Car and Driver Magazine, in an instrumented test, clocked the acceleration time to 60 miles an hour in 3.6 seconds.

However, that’s under test conditions where the driver gets the turbochargers spooled up before punching the throttle. If you simply floor it away from a stop sign, there’s hesitation as the engine re-starts from the stop-start system and the turbo power lags. It helps to switch off the stop-start.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia (European spec)The Quadrifoglio manages speed runs with aplomb and crackling exhaust sounds—music to the ears of any enthusiast. There are four driver-selectable modes—Dynamic, Natural, Advanced, Efficiency and Race—that customize performance parameters, including transmission shift points, steering response and suspension settings. They are augmented by a rear differential that incorporates torque vectoring to enhance sharp handling on curves.

It wouldn’t do to have the rapid acceleration and highway speeds without a way to arrest them so the Quadrifoglio stops with authority. Though the disc brakes are superb, track-bound aficionados likely will order the optional $5,500 fade-minimizing carbon ceramic brakes.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia (European spec)Despite its Italian flair, the tested Quadrifoglio displayed a few shortcomings. The interior was thoughtfully designed but the knobs and buttons looked as if they had been copied from an economy car. The buttons on the outside door handles for keyless entry did not work and the lane departure warnings sounded as if someone were loudly burping or gassing through a megaphone.

The Giulia is a quiet long-distance cruiser with relaxed straight-line steering that requires few corrections. Comfort is first rate for the driver and up front passenger. Though the outboard back seats have decent head room, knee room is in short supply and, as usual in most cars, the center-rear seat should be studiously avoided.

With an overall length of 15 feet 3 inches and a total of 107 cubic feet of interior space—13 cubic feet of that in the trunk—the Giulia is classified by the U.S. government as a compact car. Regardless of the numbers, it is right-sized for exciting sports sedan duty.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio four-door sedan.
  • Engine:9-liter V6, twin turbochargers, 505 hp, 443 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 3 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 94/13 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,822 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 17/24/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $73,595.
  • Price as tested: $79,195.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti

Photos (c) FCA

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

There used to be a saying that Italian sports cars like the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider were patterned after volatile mistresses: beautiful, exciting, expensive, dangerous and impossible to live with.

The new 4C, a two-seat targa-style convertible, enhances the legend. It tantalizes a small minority of car nuts—emphasis on the nuts.  Stylistically, it is a work of art. But it is a terrible car. Well, someone has to say it.

It’s analogous to the Alfa Romeo Spider of yore. From the late 1960s into the 1990s, with few changes, the Alfa Spider—also known as the Duetto—was lauded as one of the most beautiful sports cars ever conceived, which was true. But the thing drove like a tractor.

Alfa Romeo has a glorious history despite its current sickness as a car company, which owner Fiat Chrysler has vowed to cure with a $6 billion investment and new models—two of which are the new 4C coupe and roadster.

Visit the recently reopened Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese, Italy, and you can view the entire history of the world-famous nameplate. Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” which translates into Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company. Classic Alfas can sell for millions of dollars at auctions.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Likely that will happen with the 4C Spider. But it makes it on looks, which of course is the first and last thing every car buyer considers. It also has some sports car credentials, including lightweight carbon fiber construction and an engine and transmission that can propel it to 60 mph in about four seconds, according to independent tests, with a top speed of around 160.

Getting there certainly is exciting—if your idea of exciting is living on the edge. Come along for a ride.

At first look, no question it’s gorgeous, looking exactly like everybody expects of an Italian exotic sports car. For balance and handling, it has rear-drive and a mid-engine, with the 237-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine mounted right behind the driver’s shoulder blades.

Open the door and get in. Well, actually you have to sort of insinuate your body into the passenger pod, fanny first, twisting this way and that like the dragon on the Alfa Romeo emblem.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

The seating actually is decent once you get installed. However, despite big side bolsters on the seats they’re down so low they don’t provide much lateral support.

Though you can’t see them, the pedals are metal for—well, you know. There are four buttons on the console, labeled 1 (to get going), A/M (to switch from automatic to manual paddle operation of the dual clutch transmission), N (for neutral) and R (for reverse).

There’s also a toggle switch to change the driving dynamics from Weather (for soft starts in slippery conditions) to Natural and Dynamic. The last is the most aggressive, short of an all-out race mode, which you don’t get to try.

In any mode, the harsh ride rattles not only the molars but every bone in the body, especially now that the U.S. boasts some of the worst roads in the world.

Light up the engine. You have to twist the key—no pushbutton stuff here. It comes to life with a raucous roar, smack in your eardrums. Either in automatic or manual mode it snarls and barks menacingly at you between shifts. Exciting? Maybe for folks who like to listen to steam engine sounds and racing engines.

One of the features for 2016 is an Alpine audio system, which looks like it came off the shelf at Best Buy. It’s a nice unit if you listen before you start the engine. After that, you can’t hear it unless you crank it way up—and simply add to the racket.

Roll the fabric top off for open air driving and the engine uproar dissipates some. But then you battle wind noise as well.

The steering is manual, which takes wrestler’s muscle at low speeds. Once moving, it’s easier but then all it does is nibble around, following every indent in the road. Constant steering corrections are annoying and tiring. There’s no cruise control, which adds to the fatigue on freeways.

The only way this Alfa feels at home is at speed on twisting pool table surfaces. But who drives at extra-legal speeds all the time?

Yet none of this matters. Even at 70 grand, Alfa Romeo will easily sell every one. Reportedly, there’s already an 18-month waiting list.

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Specifications

  • Model: 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider two seat roadster.
  • Engine:8-liter four cylinder, turbocharged, 237 hp, 258 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six speed dual clutch automatic with manual shift mode.
  • Overall length: 13 feet 1 inch.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 47/4 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 2,847 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/ combined fuel consumption: 24/34/28 mpg. (Premium fuel required).
  • Base price, including destination charge: $65,495.
  • Price as tested: $70,595.

Read Jason’s take on the 4C here.

Photos (c) FCA North America

2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider Test Drive and Review

by Jason Fogelson

After an absence of 20 years, Alfa Romeo has come roaring back to the United States with the 4C and 4C Spider. I got a chance to spend a week with the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider last month, and I nearly fell in love. Nearly.

The idea of living with a mid-engine roadster has always intrigued me. I’ve always lusted after the old Porsche 914-6, a ridiculous little Targa-style two-seater that has no practical application beyond driving like a fool. The 4C Spider reminded me a little bit of the 914-6. It was fast, insanely maneuverable, and incredibly fun to drive around. It was also a pain to get in and out of. It was noisy. It transmitted every bump in the road through its overly supportive, narrow racing seats. I had to bribe my wife to go for rides.

In the end, I wound up appreciating the 4C for its merits, and forgiving it for its weaknesses. It is an affordable supercar, and a great reintroduction of a classic brand.

You can read my full review of the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider on Forbes.com.

Photo (c) Jason Fogelson

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