The Alfa Romeo 4C wowed us several years ago with its bold Italian charms and a driving character that made us eager to come back for more. But those two traits (as well as a whole heaping helping of spunk) were not enough to help the 4C avoid the axe, with Alfa Romeo revealing that it has killed the 4C for 2020 thus ending the 4C’s brief but exciting time in the marketplace.
In some ways, the 4C was already living on borrowed time, with the coupe version being discontinued in the U.S. back in 2018. The droptop Spider soldiered on, but low sales, the recent PSA merger, as well as a subsequent reshuffling of Alfa Romeo’s product priorities helped draw the curtains on the 4C experiment. When the 4C first appeared back in 2013, it was heralded as a welcome breath of fresh air for Alfa Romeo, and the 4C helped spearhead Alfa’s return to the U.S. with the Stelvio SUV and Giulia sedan arriving shortly after. We had our chance to experience the 4C a few years later when we had the opportunity to formally drive it ourselves in the winding roads of New York State. We liked the mid-mounted turbocharged four cylinder which brings 247 horsepower to the rear wheels, and delivers a soundtrack that is perhaps the most iconic we have seen in recent memory. But the 4C also struggled with questionable interior appointments and ergonomics, as well as some of the unique challenges that its unique tub based construction brought to both consumers and the service departments tasked with servicing them.
The 4C’s departure also falls in line with Alfa’s recent shift in product plans, with the Italian performance car maker either shelving or outright killing sports car projects to focus on addressing the glaring holes that exist in the firm’s lineup. Despite the presence of the Stelvio and the Giulia, the brand has no small SUVs or city cars in its lineup, with the turmoil being most evident in its European home market where Alfa has long been seen as an afterthought especially after the MiTo city car was canned several years ago. One upcoming model for Alfa is the Tonale SUV which is scheduled to appear in 2021. The Tonale is smaller than the Stelvio, and it would allow Alfa to formally enter the crowded CUV market which could help it gain more sales especially in Europe. The Tonale could especially be welcome fruit in the U.S. which is one of the biggest markets for CUVs of all shapes and sizes. The aging Giuletta compact is expected to stick around through 2020, but there is no replacement currently planned for it. A PSA platformed replacement could help give the next generation Giuletta some fresh new moves but without discarding its core Italian charm.
The recent potential merger between PSA and FCA could also prove to be a big game changer for Alfa Romeo. PSA CEO Carlos Tavares has always been known for not only slashing costs, but also embracing new technologies for the brands under the PSA umbrella. In Alfas case, the Italian brand could benefit from some of PSA’s newer technology, especially the firm’s electrification hardware which could improve the brand’s overall fuel economy figures as well as the all important performance figures. The merger so far appears to be on track for approval, and if that happens, then Alfa Romeo could potentially reap the rewards especially if it is given the chance to regroup and survive.
Buyers looking for a 4C to purchase for themselves will only have whatever is left in dealership inventories to choose from. In France (where the story first appeared) only 20 cars are still available. Meanwhile for U.S. buyers, the tiny two seater is just as hard to find, with potential buyers here in Metro Detroit limited to only one lone 2018 4C Spider that is currently for sale at Alfa Romeo of Lakeside. You can check out the listing here but it does give you an idea of just how rare they are, with even neighboring Ohio dealers not having one in their respective inventories. It’s unclear what the situation is like in the remaining 47 states, but expect potential buyers to put be forced to put in some time scouring dealer inventory pages to try and find the few that are still for sale. Regardless, it’s tough to deny the big splash that the model made during its brief life, and we will certainly miss its unique outlook on driving and style. But with Alfa Romeo facing perilous times and internal turmoil, even the most guilty of pleasures have to be set aside to focus on change and surviving to fight another day.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.