The Alfa Romeo 4C is, without question, the worst car I've ever loved.
I spent a full day driving it until, literally, my butt was sore. Along the way, I racked up a list of complaints that grew by the mile. But when I woke up the next morning I wanted to go drive it some more.
It was noisy, like being in a chain factory. It rode hard. Steering it, especially at slow speeds, was an NFL-level workout. But, put that all together, and you get an experience that involves your senses intimately in the act of driving a car. It's the kind of thing you don't get much anymore in this age of computerized power everything.
The emphasis is on light weight, not raw power. Instead of a big V6 or V8 engine, it's got a 237 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that lives in glass-roofed little house behind the two occupants. The body is made largely from carbon fiber and aluminum to keep the car light and nimble. The 4C is not the most powerful or the fastest car I've ever driven but it is one of the most fun.
Now, that said, there is one thing that gets left out of driving this new Alfa Romeo sports car. That would be your left foot. The 4C is actually a very modern car and that means there is no manual transmission. It's not even an option because the car simply wasn't designed for it. You put the car in Drive or Reverse using push buttons and you can shift gears up and down using steering wheel mounted paddles. No clutch needed. You can't even get one if you want it.
The transmission shifts crisply, though, and its shifts are well timed when left to work on its own. You can use a switch in the center to choose between more and less aggressive shifting styles.
The 4C looks like an exotic car, it drives like an exotic car and, no surprise, it turns heads like an exotic car. The one I was driving drew admiring gazes everywhere I went and people were always surprised to hear its price. Once it's in full production later this year, you'll be able to get one at prices starting at roughly $54,000.
Still, Alfa Romeo doesn't plan on selling a very large number of these cars in the United States. That's probably a good thing. While it has ample charm to woo a certain type of buyer there are, after all, only so many of that type. But those few should thoroughly enjoy themselves, at least until their butts start to hurt.