Sports car production from the Italian luxury brand had been stagnant since the discontinuation of the 8C Competizione in 2010. But nonetheless they tried their hand at a smaller sports concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. After its Geneva debut, the 2011 4C Concept made its appearance at the Mille Miglia, Goodwood Festival of Speed, and the Frankfurt Motor Show. It made one more appearance at the 2012 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, Italy. Although only a concept, the 4C won several awards, such as “Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year” by Auto Bild in 2011, and “Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes” at the 2012 Villa d’Este.
The winning credentials of the 2011 concept ensured a future for the production variant. The Launch Edition was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. This vehicle majorly retained the dimensions and characteristics of its prototype counterpart. It was very lightweight, with its unibody being made entirely in a singular carbon-fiber tub. Sheet moulding compound (SMC) is used for the outer body panels, keeping the vehicle weight under 900 kg. The wheelbase sits at 2380 mm (93.7 in), and length by width by height measures 4000 mm (157 in) by 1864 mm (73.4 in) by 1183 mm (46.6 in). The vehicle was ready to enter production out of Maserati’s plant in Modena, Italy. The orders were pouring in, with a speculated 1000 units shipped within Europe.
More orders would come pouring in, however, when the Alfa Romeo brand relaunched in North America in 2014. At first, a speculated 100 units were planned, and by 2015, approximately 850 had been shipped over to North America, with 663 units actually being sold. Meanwhile in Europe, sales topped 1,047 units, with 1,179 more sales the year after that.
The variant launched in North America was much the same all throughout, save that some structural modifications be made to meet crash test safety standards. These modifications made the US version heavier than the European counterpart – weighing in at over 1100 kg. The engine is kept the same: Alfa Romeo has supplied their “1750” engine, a turbocharged 1742cc (1.7L) inline-4, which produces 237 horsepower @ 6000 rpm, and 258 ft/lbs of torque at 2100 rpm. This powerplant is paired to a 6-speed TCT dual-clutch transmission, and comes with the Alfa “DNA” dynamic control selector. This control selector allows the driver to switch between the car’s default powertrain and suspension settings to an even more assertive “Race” mode.
Another variant of the 4C to debut was the Spider. Aside from the removable hardtop, the Spider features slightly different exterior panels. This puts it at a weight difference when compared to the coupe. In Europe, the 4C Spider weighs in at 940 kg, while the weight difference between American market 4C coupes and spiders is not very significant. In 2018, Alfa Romeo discontinued production of the 4C Coupe, leaving only the spider. Yet, despite the coupe’s departure from the lineup, the 4C is known as “excellence made in Italy”.