Skip to main content

Alfa Romeo 4C will get major updates, but not what enthusiasts really want

2018 Alfa Romeo 4C
With an attractive shape and lightweight carbon fiber chassis, the Alfa Romeo 4C seems to have a lot going for it. But the response to Alfa’s svelte sports car has been decidedly mixed. Alfa will try to address some of the issues in an upcoming refresh, but it won’t add one item sure to please enthusiasts: A manual transmission.

An updated 4C will appear in fall 2018 and go on sale in January 2019, Alfa Romeo and Maserati engineering boss Roberto Fedeli said in an interview with Autocar. The updates will include changes to the suspension and steering, and possibly a new engine, but will not include a manual transmission option.

The 4C was designed around driver engagement, so Alfa’s decision to offer it only with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission has always seemed at odds with the car’s mission. Alfa was so committed to creating an old-school feel that it ditched power steering completely, in order to provide the purest sensation. The 4C also features a carbon fiber monocoque chassis similar to what you expect to find in high-end supercars. That, and a lack of creature comforts, keeps the curb weight of a U.S.-spec 4C coupe at an impressively low 2,465 pounds.

In an age where automotive journalists routinely complain about numb electric power steering and the bloat caused by modern convenience features, the 4C initially seemed like a godsend. But reviews have been mixed, with many citing twitchy steering, a rough ride, and a cramped cabin. With a base price of $55,900, the 4C also isn’t cheap.

Even if a manual transmission isn’t on the table, a new engine could be a big help. The current 4C uses a turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder, which produces 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That is more than adequate in such a light car (the 4C will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, according to Alfa). But a boost in performance might make buyers more likely to overlook the car’s spartan nature.

Not only will the 4C not get a manual transmission, but neither will any other future high-performance, Alfa, Maserati, or Ferrari models, Alfa/Maserati engineering boss Fedeli said. That’s already pretty much the case with the three conjoined Italian automakers; Ferrari hasn’t sold a manual-transmission car in years.

The manual transmission’s demise is due to lack of customer demand, Fedeli said. After spending millions to develop a manual option for the California roadster, how many cars do you think Ferrari sold with that transmission. Just two, according to Fedeli.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Are EVs safe? From battery fires to autopilot, here are the facts
Lucid Air electric car

While many people will be primarily concerned with EV range before buying their first electric vehicle, others are a little nervous about having a giant lithium-ion battery strapped to their car's undercarriage. Those things can catch fire -- just ask Chevy Bolt owners. But how much of a real danger is that? And should it prevent you from buying an EV?
What safety features do EV batteries have?
The major safety issue with lithium-ion batteries is their temperature. If they get too hot, they're prone to igniting. If they get too cold, they freeze and permanently stop working. Charge and discharge rates need to be carefully regulated too, or you'll get electrical fires. Over time, small imperfections in a battery's structure can lead to short circuits and reduced lifetime.

EVs have what are called battery management systems (BMS) to keep tabs on all of these variables. The BMS will generate warnings when needed and intervene directly by cutting off power if things get out of hand. EV battery packs also have thermal management systems. Typically, this is a closed loop of liquid coolant flowing alongside the battery cells, but air cooling and welding battery cells directly to the car chassis are also means of mitigating extreme heat.
How well do EVs handle a crash?
Since there's no engine at the front of an EV, the hood typically houses a frunk -- meaning a front trunk. This acts as a large crumple zone in the case of a head-on accident. One crash in Germany avoided casualties thanks to this inherent characteristic of electric vehicles. Crash tests bear this out. Popular EVs like the Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Nissan Leaf have all received overall five-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Read more
The locations of over 2 million Toyota cars were exposed for 10 years
2018 toyota yaris gazoo news specs performance teaser logo

Ever get the sense that you're being tracked? Well, if you're a Toyota driver, you may have been. Toyota has disclosed in a statement that the locations of 2,150,000 of its customers were at risk of breach between November 6, 20i3, and April 17, 2023.

Information that was at risk specifically included the vehicle GPS and navigation terminal ID number, the chassis number, and the location of the vehicle with time data. This information is related to Toyota's cloud-based Connected service, which is used to remind owners to get maintenance done, stream entertainment in the car, and help find owners during emergency situations. Users who used services like Toyota Connected, G-Link, and G-Book were potentially affected.

Read more
Big driverless buses are now serving passengers in Scotland
An autonomous Stagecoach bus.

A fleet of full-size autonomous buses is now serving passengers along a 15-mile route in Scotland in what is the first service of its kind in the U.K.

Five of the buses are running between Edinburgh to a destination that takes it across Scotland’s famous Forth Road Bridge.

Read more