Just how dull does a Lotus Exige look compared to this?
When it comes to track cars in the UK, most enthusiasts follow a rough trend. Many will begin with a Mazda MX-5 or Suzuki Swift Sport and work their way up the ladder.
I’d say the most common choices in the ‘upper echelon’ are a BMW M2/3, Lotus Exige or, if you’re feeling particularly flush, a Porsche GT4/GT3. Alfa Romeos simply do not make the list, so imagine my surprise to not only see a 4C at Players Classic, but one heavily modified for track use.
Before we get into the details, please just look at it a little longer. This little red spaceship has an alien-like beauty you rarely see in modern cars.
There’s not a bad angle on it (believe me, I did enough laps around it to know), with its taught cabin flanked by those huge haunches and that low, pretty nose. Maybe it could do with the glass projector headlamps of the later models to make it perfect; those carbon fibre bug-eye units mark this out as a launch edition car though so I’ll overlook them.
The boot lid and rear window panel are made by Scara73, while the front canards are Reverie items. All are in carbon fibre.
Speaking of carbon, the rear of the Alfa is hugely impressive to look at. The rear diffuser setup is comprehensive, and a quick peek reveals this is part of a complete flat floor including side skirts and the front splitter.
See, being so rare, aftermarket parts aren’t the easiest to get ahold of for a 4C. Fortunately, Fergus Walkinshaw, the brains behind this build, managed to source some of the best of what is available. Not only that, but where he couldn’t, the team at FW Motorsport had the means to make what they needed in-house.
The entire underbody aero is just the tip of this custom iceberg.
Take the brakes for example. Snug behind the Titan 7 forged wheels sit a whopping 8-piston calliper front setup from Tarox. This is paired with Tarox F2000 discs front and rear. At the back though, there was nothing available off the shelf to upgrade the factory items. The obvious solution – take a larger rear pad and have it CNC water-cut to fit in the OEM calliper, maximising rear swept pad area. The 4C is riddled with details like this.
The Alfa is currently running 340hp and 324 ft-lbs of torque from its 1.75L turbocharged engine. That’s a hefty increase of around 100hp and 65ft-lbs of torque from stock, which naturally requires additional cooling.
Again, off the shelf there’s almost nothing available for the 4C, and again Fergus had to come up with solutions from scratch. In order to maximise efficiency, a CSF core forms the base of a bespoke cooling package.
This includes the CSF charge cooler to replace the intercooler of course, alongside an uprated charge-cooled radiator, turbocharger fan with custom ducting, and a custom transmission oil cooler and pump.
The engine breathes more freely thanks to a custom-made down-pipe with 100-cell sport catalytic converter and induction kit, making its way along the car via a custom exhaust system with centre high-exit exhaust tips in carbon.
All of these mods support the main source of the Alfa’s power gain – the hybrid turbo. SCS Delta standalone ECU management ensures harmonious running whilst alloy boost pipes keep turbo pressure constant and reliable.
A Wavetrac limited slip differential helps to transfer power to the road reliably, through the mega-sticky Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R rubber.
Underneath, the Alfa is pretty hardcore; I wouldn’t want to daily the thing on London streets. Starting with the big stuff, the 4C is suspended on Nitron 3-way adjustable coilovers. These are connected to the car through an almost entirely rose-jointed geometry setup. At the front, the wishbones have been converted to spherical bearings instead of rubber bushes. At the rear, the OEM suspension arms have been ditched entirely and replaced with custom-fabricated rose-jointed units.
The mounting geometry of the lower arms been changed to adjust the rear roll centre, and the rear toe arms not only reduce rear bump steer, but also remove bush deformation when cornering. Upgraded anti-roll bars are fitted at both ends of the Alfa, with adjustable anti-roll-bar drop links.
Climbing into the Alfa, the cabin is a bit of a let down to be honest. For what was a near £50K car new, the fit and finish of the dashboard feels sub-par versus its rivals; more stripped-out options such as Lotus’s range or cheaper alternatives such as a Toyota GR Yaris feel more plush. Once the car is going though, with some heat in its tyres, you forget about the interior entirely as the experience blows you away.
The only way I can describe the way this 4C drives is a mixture of a heavily-tuned Golf R and a beautifully setup Porsche Cayman. Of course, I can only tell you what I felt from the passenger seat, but my bum-dyno is rather well calibrated if I do say so myself.
Initially it’s the power delivery that strikes you. You’d be forgiven for expecting the standard, dull, four-cylinder turbo feeling of a little lag, all the torque then dying down over 4,000rpm.
The Alfa picks up and f**ks off, quite frankly, pulling hard until damned well near the redline where Fergus shifts gear. Power to weight ratio can be a beautiful thing, and the Alfa only has a dry weight of 895kg (1,975lb).
Take into account the Reverie carbon bucket seats and lightweight wheels as well as the smaller touches like the carbon boot lid, rear window panel and forged lightweight wheels, the weight is certainly not hampered.
The Alfa was certainly up there with the quickest on track at Players Classic. There were others with more outright pace in a straight line, but it’s the way Fergus was able to carry speed through the corners that boggles my mind.
For a car with such a reliance on boost, it has a shocking amount of adjustability on the throttle. Thanks to the motorsport-grade bushes everywhere, the feedback from the road through the seat alone is mega. I can only imagine how good the steering feel is, unassisted too I might add, and I could feel the car the car dart and rotate according to every small input I saw Fergus perform.
Take all of that, add heavy turbo noise and you have an intoxicating package; not only does the Alfa look incredible but it feels it on track too. Drivers’ cars are often handsome things. I’m not talking about multi-purpose ‘do it all’ sports cars (BMW’s offensively-ugly current range, for example), but the real focussed, track-ready sort.
Yet the Alfa 4C is a cut above in terms of exterior design, and this one in particular is right up there with the best in terms of performance too.
Ciao bella to you 4C, I have a new cherry on the top of my want list.