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Giulia Quad, Cayman GT4, Cayenne Turbo
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In terms of an entry level supercar, nothing comes close to the Alfa 4C. I receive more attention driving the 4C than I do in any Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini.

There is a lot of love for the Alfa 4C, both in Coupe and Spider form, so I decided to create a buying guide for prospective buyers. There will be a lot of updates to this no doubt over the coming months or years, so I will do so as and when I can.

The car is not comparable to a Cayman in my opinion. The Cayman is a brilliant refined sports car and the 4C is a raw, noisy, lightweight, semi-track weapon. They are chalk and cheese. The 4C is much closer to an Elise or Exige.

The 4C is also very economical. It returns 40mpg relatively easily. Tax as of August 2018 is £195 for the year.

The Guide

The lightweight body of the 4C is made from SMC (Sheet Moulding Composite) panels which are lighter than aluminium equivalents. As they are effectively plastic, they are flexible. This is a good and a bad thing for owners. You’ll never see parking dents or dings on a 4C as the panel will flex under contact but, as there is no rigid base, the paint is therefore soft and scratches very easily. If a panel receives a large impact. the panel will simply tear and will need to be replaced.

The front end of the 4C must really be protected with PPF. The primer underneath the paint is grey and as such shows up any chips very easily. The red paints are notorious for chips, especially Rosso Alfa. Rosso Competitizone is a little better as it’s a thicker paint application.

Check the car for scratches especially under the front nose as it can catch on ramps etc.

Paint colours for the 4C and 4C Spider.
Black (Standard no cost colour)
Alfa Rosso
Rosso Competizione (Pearlescent)
Stromboli Grey
Madreperla White (Tricoat Pearl - Renamed Trofeo white in 2018 to be in line with Giulia)
Alfa White
Carrara White (Matte Paint - only available on LE cars outside of USA)
Giallo Prototipo (Only available on the Spider and on the coupe from 2016 onwards)

Headlights were supplied in the following formats.
Carbon Surround with Bi-LED headlights (Standard on LE and they form the luxury pack on the Spider)
Plastic Surround with halogen headlights (Standard on all coupe)
Spider projector Xenon style sealed units (Standard on Spider - available as an option on the Coupe)

They are not interchangeable as the wiring loom is different for each headlight.

Check the rear central brake light. I've changed a couple of these now on cars for clients as some of the LED's have failed. The part has to come from italy and takes approximately 10 days. It is very fiddly to fit and you need to be careful to protect the paint, but luckily it only takes 30 mins. The hard part is to not lose any of the clips into the boot recess as you may never get them out again.

The Carbon Tub
The Carbon tub forms the main chassis of the car. Front and rear aluminium subframes secure the front and rear sections of the car in place. The tub is incredibly strong. In the few accident damaged 4C's (including a high speed impact in Morocco) the tub is always perfectly intact. This makes the 4C incredibly safe compared to the equivalent Elise/Exige.

Any damage to the tub however is likely to be irreparable and as such the car will be a write off. Check under the car and you can see the floor of the tub. Along with all the cover panels, the underside of the 4C is aerodynamic and flat.

Damage to the front and rear frames can be repaired (cost and parts permitting) but the car will most likely be some kind of category write off.

The interior is wearing well on the 4Cs, however, I’ve seen a lot of cars with scratches on the sills of the carbon tub. This is mainly from people getting in and out with belts or buttons on trousers etc.

The cars were supplied with a small piece of PPF which covered the painted sill at the highest part for getting in and out of the car.

A leather dash with contrasting stitching was available to spec from late 2015. This made a huge difference to the interior of the car and makes the dash look much better, in my opinion. The stitching goes around the air vents and all around the radio area. The stitching is the colour of the seats. So for my car, for example, I have tan seats and tan stitching.

There have been a few cases (In hot climates especially) where the leather has lifted away from the dash around the airbag area. These have been replaced under warranty. Check for bubbles or uneven areas of the dashboard.

List of Interior Seat options
Black Cloth with red stitching
Black Leather with red stitching
Black Leather with yellow stitching (Only available with yellow cars)
Red leather
Tan Leather (Only available from Early 2016 - A very rare option)
Black leather and microfibre with yellow stitching (Only available with yellow cars)
Black leather and microfibre with red stitching
Black leather and microfibre with white stitching (Delivered with white LE cars - all markets)

Bolsters are fabric, which was a great idea by Alfa to stop wear to the leather as you see in many other cars.

* 50th Anniversary cars were able to be specced only with black or red leather seats

Some of the early coupe cars had leaky seals around the rear boot compartment. I've seen a few cars with damp storage compartments. This is something that is very easy to check.

Engine and Gearbox
The engine in the 4C originated in the Giulietta Quadrifoglio and was redisgned for the 4C with an aluminium block as opposed to the cast iron block of the Giulietta. Once the engine was developed, it was then used for the Giulietta Quadrifoglio from September 2014 onwards along with the TCT gearbox.
The engine and gearbox of the 4C has shown itself to be very reliable. There are many Giuliettas with well over 70,000 miles running with no issues and many of the USA 4C owners have done 40,000 plus miles in their 4Cs and the drive chain has been very reliable.

One issue which arose with a few cars is a noisy pulley in the engine bay. To remedy this we have seen cars have new pulley tensions under warranty. I will update the exact cause after more research.

The DNA system on the 4C is quite useful.

Race Mode
Holding the switch forward into D mode for more than 5 seconds activates race mode. All systems are turned off and the 4C is a good track weapon. Not recommended on the road.

Dynamic Mode
Probably where most people spend most of their time in the 4C. You can get a nice bit of rotation in dynamic and the systems don’t interfere until the slip angle is quite wide.

Normal Mode
This is a dialled back version of dynamic and is suited to normal everyday driving.

All Weather
The 4C can be a bit jerky on the throttle in the first few minutes of driving. I always put my car in A mode as it calms the accelerator and drops the boost back, making the car a lot smoother. I also use this mode when in traffic as it calms the jerkiness of the TCT gearbox. In the wet, it is a must to use this mode as the torque can easily overpower traction.


Suspension was in either of 2 configurations. Race Suspension or Normal Suspension.

I’ve seen a number of cars with front lower wishbone failure. It seems to affect more cars that are daily drivers or have seen a lot of rain. But can happen at any mileage. The main bushes perish and as a result, when you turn the steering wheel, you get a delightful creak which sounds a bit like a haunted house door opening. At the time of writing the front arms are £300. The replacement arms are revised part numbers so hopefully Alfa have addressed this issue. Most cars with the issue had the replacement part changed under warranty.

The rear of the car has been pretty solid and I’ve not seen any significant problems.

In early 2015 Alfa introduced a rear roll bar in all cars. Previously to this, only the race suspension received a rear roll bar. The non-race roll bar is of a smaller diameter. In late 2015 Alfa changed the front geometry further. As such, you will notice cars after November 2015 seem to be less twitchy.

Tyres and Wheels
For track work, the 17-18 alloys are the preferred option. However for aesthetics, the 18-19s suit the car much better. The pirelli tyres that came with the car were either P Zero or P Zero AR Racing. The AR Racing spec tyres are a little more sticky but aren’t really very different from the standard P Zero. In my opinion they aren’t great tyres, they exaggerate the tram lining characteristics of the car. I, along with a few others, have changed to the Michelin Pilot Super Sports and both the ride, handling and tram lining are vastly improved.

One interesting observation is that all the 18"-19" alloys are forged. Whereas the 17"-18" alloys are cast.

Calipers came standard in grey. Optional colours were, red, yellow and black.


Options available - Standard Exhaust, Race Exhaust, Akrapovic Exhaust
A lot of people complain about the drone of the race exhaust in the coupe. Some people can live with it, as they only use the car every so often, others love it as at the end of the day “it’s special”.

The spider does not drone anywhere near as much with the race exhaust. Part of the reason for this is the spider doesn’t have a glass rear deck that reflects the sound back towards the cabin. In addition, the fabric roof of the spider allows sound to escape. As such it’s much easier to live with on longer journeys.

The standard exhaust is very quiet in comparison. It does have a large silencer which mutes the sound significantly. It is still very enjoyable to drive as you have the sounds of the turbo spooling and bypass valve right behind your ear.

If your exhaust vibrates significantly when on idle, chances are your flexi pipe has perished. You will also notice a rattle under the car with this problem. I had this on mine and it was changed under warranty.

The Alfa Romeo logo was stamped into the silencer on the standard exhaust. For cars that have been used frequently and in the rain, this stamped area perishes with surface rust and eventually the box pops open. Great design! Again this has been changed under warranty for most people and the new revised part does not have the alfa stamp in the casing.

The race exhaust is identified over the standard as its has two rings per exit as opposed to one.

An Akropovic exhaust was also available to spec on later cars. In the UK market I know of only 3 cars that have this fitted. Rare is an understatement. It was a £3150 option in the UK. It is more common in the rest of the world. It is a dual mode system which is switchable with the DNA system. Valves open in Dynamic. It has a double central exhaust and is easily recognisable compared to the Alfa Romeo made systems.

Other options
Towards the end of 2015, Alfa decided to allow Rear Parking Sensors to be a no cost option. It is a must have option in my opinion.
Cruise Control was also a no cost option and can be useful for average speed camera areas etc.
PPF used to be a cost option but since late 2017 it has been included on all vehicles (in the UK at least). It is fitted at the factory. Early cars all had the underside of the side sills protected regardless and the front end cost £1200 from Alfa. Ouch.

Special Editions
Launch Edition Coupe (All Markets)
The first cars available to order were Launch Edition cars in the UK. Apart from the colour, the spec was not changeable but they came with a lot of nice options and, with a list price of £52K, were somewhat of a bargain. Options on the LE car included the following: open intakes on front bumper, carbon fibre rear spoiler, carbon fibre headlights with Bi-LED, carbon fibre gear selector buttons, carbon mirror covers, carbon fibre dashboard cluster, LE badge on centre console with LE number, leather seats with microfibre inserts and red or white contrast stitching, red or white stitched door handle pulls. The cars came in the stunning carrara matte white (Madreperla white for the US Market) or Alfa Rosso. 18-19 dark grey teledial alloys were standard, along with race exhaust and race suspension. There was also a carbon dash insert which had the tricolour flag and Launch Edition.

50th Anniversary Spider (UK Only)
In 2016 Alfa UK announced the 50th Anniversary edition of the spider. Unlike the LE, this was just for the UK market and wasn’t really a special edition car per se, more like a fully specced car at a good price point. It helped Alfa to shift a few cars! They came with a number of carbon fibre options. The options were as follows: carbon fibre rollover bar, carbon lateral intake, carbon covers with 50th Anniversary sticker, carbon fibre dash pod, dark multispoke 18-19 alloys, race exhaust, black or red leather with contrast stitching, There are 50 cars in total. You can have the car in Competizione Rosso, Madreperla white or Giallo Prototipo.

Servicing isn't particularly cheap on the 4C, but then again it isn't a normal car. After the first year or 12,000 miles (whatever is sooner, there is a bolt check service. This involves checking the torque setting on a large number of bolts around the car. This service must be carried out ever 2 years after the first service. Regardless of whether a car has done 10,000 miles or 1,000 it should be performed. You could argue that it isn't necessary on a car that has not moved or has been kept in storage. Some of the USA dealers have told clients its not worth doing. This conflicts with Alfa Romeo Italy's information. Bolts can work their way loose even after a few hundred miles.

Approximate prices in GBP for servicing
Minor Service including brake fluid change - circa £800 inc vat
Major Service including bolt checking - circa £1000 inc vat

Aircon Regassing
The valves to regass the AC are under the front sealed bonnet. A royal pain in the backside to get to. It is possible to get under the bonnet without destroying the weather strip on the windscreen if you move the wiper to its central position.

The front wiper
To aid with washing, changing the wiper and opening the front bonnet. Hold the wiper stalk upward when the car is switched off and the wiper will move to a 1/3 position, do it again and the wiper will move to 1/2 way position.

Jamie Porter at the Alfa Workshop/AlfaWorks has developed revised spacers for the 4C which change the camber and castor settings for the car.
The rear suspension on the 4C is not the optimum setup and, as such, the rear arms can be modified with a cross axis bush. This allows the rear tyres to provide a better contact patch with the road surface. You can buy the entire arm from AlfaWorks, or you can buy the bushes separately from a nice chap in Slovenia who runs Gale Motorsport.

Another upgrade is an ECU remap, which a few people have chosen to do. It is possible to safely extract another 40BHP out of the car which mades it considerably quicker. Bear in mind its a quick car already. 0-60 times drop under 4 seconds from the original 4.1.

The Pitstop Programme
This applied to most of the early 2014 cars, including the LE model. A few things were changed when the cars went to Slough for the work to be done. It was really a recall rather than an upgrade programme. They adjusted the front geometry and made software changes to the gearbox and ECU. They also put in a bigger battery and fitted aluminium strips to the inside of the rear wings next to the bootlid for strengthening. That is the main way you can tell if the car has had the recall or not.

Extended Warranties.
Extended warranties are available for the 4C. You must ensure you get a MOPAR warranty and not some 3rd party warranty company that the dealers are trying to push. The car will need an inspection or have full service history for this to be applied. At the time of writing, a MOPAR warranty is £595 for one year and £1195 for 2 years.

29 Posts
This is a really thorough buyers guide, thank you OperationAlfa. Very useful as I am looking to purchase a 4C Spider next year.

I have a question regarding the 50th Anniversary edition sold in the UK. Did this car come with the Alfa racing suspension set-up? I’ve heard conflicting information about this, but your guide would suggest it did not.

Any advice is much appreciated.
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