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Christopher Bruce2013-06-12 16:26:44

Alfa Romeo Combining Composites to Make 4C the Affordable Supercar

First car will be delivered in late September

 
 
Slideshow
The 4C will be on sale by the end of September in Europe

Alfa RomeoAlfa RomeoAlfa RomeoItaly, 1910 > present108 models
2261 photos
7 videos
is getting into the deep details of the 4C's4CAlfa Romeo 4CItaly, 2013 > present4 photos
platform and explaining how it created a mass-produced car in the modern era that weighs just 895kg (1,973lb). It says that the concept that guided the 4C was the "affordable supercar." By combining the strengths of ChryslerChryslerChryslerUnited States of America, 1925 > present70 models
875 photos
1 video
, FiatFiatFiatItaly, 1899 > present159 models
4916 photos
35 videos
and MaseratiMaseratiMaseratiItaly, 1914 > present62 models
735 photos
7 videos
, the 4C is meant to bring supercar abilities to the masses.

The biggest reason for the 4C's low weight is its carbon fiber monocoque that weighs 65kg (143lb). Carbon fiber is responsible for 10% of the materials in the 4C and 25% of its weight. The downside is that the monocoques have to be made offsite and a little over 3,500 will be made each year. A thousand of the cars will kept for Europe, and the rest will go to the US.

The system the 4C uses to form its carbon fiber allows it to create complete pieces without the need for bonding. For example, the door post would be made from six pieces of steel on a standard car, but the carbon fiber process allows it to be formed as a single piece.

Carbon fiber is still too expensive to use for an entire car at the 4C's price point. For the roof and front and rear sub-frames, Alfa used aluminum to save weight over steel.

The 4C's body is made from a type of fiberglass called sheet moulding compound (SMC). It reduces weight by 20% over a steel body. A cubic centimeter of SMC weighs almost half of aluminum and a fifth of steel. SMC does not dent in minor collisions, which should help reduce maintenance costs.

Instead of focusing on power when developing the new car, Alfa Romeo put the emphasis on low weight. It is also linked to the car's affordability because a bespoke engine would have meant higher production costs and higher maintenance costs. Instead, Alfa chose the 1750cc turbo engine that was already available and tuned it to 237hp. it gives the 4C a power-to-weight ratio of 4kg/hp.

Production of the 4C will begin at the old Maserati factory in Modena, Italy. The car will have its assembly done on its own production line, and quality control and finishing will be done with the other Maseratis built there. After production each 4C will go on a 40km test drive as a final test.

Alfa Romeo plans to deliver the first 4C in the latter part of September 2013. It will be revealed for the US in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and the first US car is scheduled to be delivered in very late in 2013. 

Encyclopedia
Alfa RomeoAlfa Romeo
4C Gen.14C Gen.1
4C4C
Engine
Straight 4
Displacement
107 cu in
Top Speed
160 mph
Transmission
6, Double Clutch with overdrive
Maximum power
240 hp @ 6000 rpm
Type
Fixed-head coupé
Fuel
Petrol
Fuel consumption (combined)
34.59 US MPG
price
$ 86.820
* based on Portugal prices
annual ownership cost
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