The Alfa Romeo 4C is often referred to as a tiny Ferrari. But that’s not just because of the Italian badge and the curvaceous bodywork. The 4C has features that you rarely see outside of the exotic supercar world. First and foremost, it is mid-engined. This means that the engine is, as you’ve guessed, in the middle. Moving the engine to the middle of the car, instead of at the front, centralizes the weight, and makes the handling more stable and predictable. Which is exactly what you want in a performance vehicle.
But the party piece of the Alfa Romeo 4C is its carbon fiber monocoque, or “tub”. Think of a monocoque like an eggshell. All of the strength comes from the actual surface, while the interior is open. So instead of a lot of bracing and supports, the passenger compartment itself provides all of the structure and strength for the car. When you combine this type of structure with a material as light and strong as carbon fiber, you get a chassis that is unbelievably light, yet strong. That light weight improves the speed, handling, and braking, while the strength allows the chassis to remain rigid while the suspension works underneath it. As with the mid-engine layout, this makes the handling more accurate.
So we’ve got a mid-engined car, with a carbon fiber monocoque, a dual clutch transmission, and a legendary Italian brand. It’s really not difficult to see where the Ferrari comparisons come from. This combination of high end features is nearly unheard of outside of the supercar world of Ferrari and McLaren. When you add all of that to a car that sells for well under the six figure mark, you wind up with an irresistible package.
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