Alfa Romeo has started deliveries of its painfully beautiful 8C Competizione and it must be like Christmas for those few lucky enough to be on the waiting list. Just 500 coupes are being built and although there are Australian and New Zealand names on the exclusive ownerâ€™s list, left hand drive only means that local owners will either keep their cars in Europe or on private roads.
The heritage behind the 8C Competizione name is interesting. In the Thirties and Forties, the 8C name was used to identify cars, both racing and on-road, equipped with the powerful eight-cylinder engine developed by the legendary designer Vittorio Jano. The term â€˜Competizioneâ€™ on the other hand is intended as a tribute to the 6C 2500 Competizione, a sports coupÃ© driven by the team of Fangio and Zanardi in the famous Mille Miglia race in 1950.
The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione features a 4.7-litre V8 with 335kW (450hp) and 470Nm teamed with a six-speed gearbox, with computerised gear selection by the steering-wheel mounted paddles. The six-speed gearbox was developed for very fast gear changes, and can be used in Manual-Normal, Manual-Sport, Automatic-Normal, Automatic-Sport and Ice modes.
Picture gallery and press release follow.
Styling and aerodynamics: tradition and innovation
The captivating, original lines developed by the Alfa Romeo Style Centre for this 2-seater makes it unique in the GT segment. Thanks to the excellent work done by the designers, the demands of aerodynamics and performance did not modify the carâ€™s original concept.
In fact the styling maintains the incredibly clean lines, free from any elements that might disturb their harmony.
The solutions adopted on the Alfa 8C to achieve the highest levels of aerodynamic efficiency do not stop at the design of its shape. The air envelops the car and follows its natural route, not hindered by protruding or irregular elements. All the surfaces and profiles of the uprights and the windows, as well as the shape and position of the wing mirrors, have been optimised both by mathematical calculations and by tests in the wind tunnel and on the road. A great deal of attention has been focused on creating a â€˜groundâ€™ effect, which made it possible to achieve a negative drag coefficient (Cz) which helps to increase stability at high speed, as it does on racing cars.
The compact dimensions heighten the aggressive nature of the car, which was designed to guarantee maximum driving efficiency.
The surfaces have been carefully sculpted and expertly modelled, and the body is given extra dynamism by the horizontal furrow â€˜cutâ€™ into the side above the front wheelarch. The large tyres and the powerful, muscular rear wings accentuate the impression the model gives of a strong, forceful personality, but without detracting in any way from the elegance of the lines that run smoothly, underlining the beauty of each element of the exterior: the drop-shaped light clusters set into the front bumper like precious stones, the LED rear lights that epitomise technology and rational design, the essential styling of the door handles. And the characteristic Alfa Romeo styling elements on the front, the â€˜whiskersâ€™ and the shield, have been given a new look.
The innovative styling anticipates elements and proportions of future Alfa Romeo cars, but it is also full of emotions and references to the past: the 33 CoupÃ© Stradale, the Giulia TZ and numerous other icons from motoring history. And finally, the Alfa Romeo Style Centre has developed new colours to set off the line of the 8C Competizione, which blend with the carâ€™s sinuous styling while they express modernity and high technology.
An 8-cylinder 4.7 litre engine: Italian â€˜belcantoâ€™
The engine is the pulsating heart of every Alfa Romeo. In this case it is a new 4691 cc 90Â° V8 unit which was developed with a clear goal: to guarantee extraordinary performance, but also to ensure that the car is smooth and exploitable in all situations whether on the racetrack or in town traffic.
The carâ€™s performance is summed up by a maximum power output of 450 bhp at 7000 rpm, peak torque of 470 Nm at 4750 rpm and a top engine speed of 7500 rpm.
The fluid dynamics and the cylinder head cooling system were designed to make the ports really permeable, effectively cooling the intake to maximise volumetric efficiency and engine performance.
The harmonised intake and exhaust geometries, combined with continuously variable valve timing on the intake cam axes, the optimised combustion chamber and the calibration of the engine itself, together ensure that 80% of peak torque is available at just 2000 rpm. When driven hard on mixed routes, the engine responds extremely rapidly, thanks to the high permeability of the intake and the low inertia of the flywheel-twin plate clutch system.
The propeller shaft, which has the counterweights set at 90Â°, is perfectly balanced thanks to the selection of conrods and pistons, and ensures that the engine produces virtually no vibration.
The cylinder block and base are made of aluminium with 5 journals to maintain the rigidity of the structure and to minimise losses due to friction; the cylinder heads are also made of aluminium alloy. All the ducts (water, oil, secondary air) are cast directly with the engine which makes for an extremely rigid system, taking up less space and â€˜safeâ€™ to assemble, which enhances reliability.
Incorporating the accessory systems into the main engine castings, and the extremely rigid design of all the elements ensures that the engine generates less noise and enhances the reliability of the components. Great care also went into the longitudinal packaging of the engine, epitomised by the adoption of a single chain timing system, which guarantees exceptional â€˜lifelongâ€™ reliability.
And finally, particular care was dedicated to the definition and acoustic intonation of the intake and exhaust, to achieve a timbre that would point up the character of the car, and make it unmistakable. The result is a characteristic, full sound, emphasised by a very permeable intake system and an exhaust system with electronically controlled actuation valves, which enhances the sound of the car but respects homologation and environmental standards.
Transmission, robotised gearbox and self-locking differential
On the 8C Competizione, the engineers propose a layout that Alfa has used on several previous occasions: a transaxle architecture with the gearbox on the rear axle. This achieves excellent dynamic performance, without detracting from Alfa Romeoâ€™s proverbial active safety.
The engine-transmission unit adopts the transaxle architecture, with a weight distribution that is very effective for the handling of the car. Thanks to the small axial measurements, and the fact that the chassis elements were incorporated from the first stages of its design, the entire power pack was housed far to the rear of the car, a position worthy of sporty credentials.
The six-speed gearbox, with computerised gear selection by the levers behind the steering-wheel, was developed for very fast gear changes, and can be used in Manual-Normal, Manual-Sport, Automatic-Normal, Automatic-Sport and Ice modes. And finally, the self-locking differential lets the driver control acceleration and stability in any situation with extraordinary efficiency.
Suspension, wheels and braking system
In the best Alfa Romeo tradition, the technical solutions on the car were borrowed directly from racing experience. The suspension system of the new model is no exception. It envisages a dual wishbone layout with hub carriers and arms made of forged aluminium, with a supplementary strut to control toe-in.
The braking system mounts perforated, ventilated discs with aluminium callipers to guarantee powerful, effective braking even with very intensive use. What is more, specially developed 20â€ tyres were chosen, because they could guarantee excellent performance, really â€˜gluingâ€™ the car to the road: 245/35 at the front and 285/35 at the rear, mounted on perforated special aluminium wheels which are lighter and make brake ventilation more efficient.
And finally, to ensure that the car is entertaining and safe to drive in all conditions, the 8C Competizione uses the latest edition of the Alfa Romeo VDC system, an evolved stability and traction control system, which ensures that the driver and the car are always on the same wavelength.
A rigid, light structure
A structure that is rigid and light is essential when designing a good car with high performance. And it was certainly the inspiration for the 8C Competizione. The compact chassis is made of steel for maximum torsional rigidity, guaranteeing precise, safe steering at all times, while the bodyshell is made of carbon fibre. This choice was motivated by the need to keep weight to a minimum, but also to lower the carâ€™s centre of gravity, enhancing agility and driveability on more demanding routes.
Interior: personality and technology
Composite materials were used extensively in the interior, in particular for the facia and interior panelling. It was a technical decision but one that also underlines the spirit of the car and highlights its personality. This is borne out by the anatomical seats, made of carbon fibre, which can be adjusted and customised according to the shape and size of the driver (a feature once only available on racing cars).
Everything has been studied and manufactured to guarantee an extremely ergonomic position for the driver and whoever wishes to share the experience with him: relaxed driving, instruments that are always visible and intuitive, and levers for the robotised gearbox on the steering column where they are easily reached without taking oneâ€™s hands off the sporty steering wheel.
The care and attention that goes into the finishing elements allow the customer to customise the car to his wishes, choosing between different environments and internal styling solutions. The attention to detail and the craftsmanship are obvious, for example, if we observe the luxurious leather chosen for the seats and for the central part of the door panels, or the exclusive, innovative treatment of the upholstery, which features leather interwoven with a natural fibre cloth to create an aesthetic effect of great depth and impact. The customer can even choose the colour of the stitching, just one example of the many ways he can adapt the interior to his own taste.
The absolute pleasure of fast driving
Look at it and love it: wide tyres, low stance, and aggressive, balanced styling. Just beautiful in other words. You hear the engine and it speaks to you: a mechanical, full, convincing sound. Now all you have to do is sit at the wheel, engage first and try out the Alfa 8C Competizione. But there is still one doubt: how do you drive a sports car with a 4700 cc 8-cylinder engine under the bonnet, which releases 450 bhp and 470 Nm of torque when you press the accelerator. The unexpected reply is: very easily, maybe even more easily and instinctively than you are accustomed to doing with your everyday car.
Provided you take the time and pleasure (because it is a pleasure) to familiarise yourself with the controls, which are more direct, and the responses, which are more instinctive, gradually unveiling the personality of the new Alfa 8C Competizione. On a mixed road, or better still on the racetrack where speed and transverse acceleration are more demanding, it produces sensations that only a true sports car is capable of.
The Alfa 8C Competizione announces that it is a true Alfa through and through, with uncompromising control and driving enjoyment. Driving comfort and dynamic behaviour have always been inherent in Alfa Romeo cars; and in this car they become real strengths.