ALFA ROMEO 4C REVIEW
Now, I have to admit: lapping an airport hangar was not something I'd ever done before, not even on a push bike.
And certainly not in something with a 201kW per tonne power-to-weight ratio like Alfa Romeo's exciting new 4C.
But there could barely be a better setting to show just how agile and nimble this little monster is.
In this tight slalom, in the absence of a long straight and fast sweepers, you get to learn some fine detail of the handling.
And that minutiae of detail isn't what I was expecting. After all, the last time I drove something with such low levels of powered assistance I was feeding hay off the back of it.
But look beyond what the 4C doesn't have (power steering and air-con for starters - those things are just dead weight) and what you do have is a 'proper' sports car.
One of superb mid-engined balance, low weight, and stupendous noise.
Controllability is key, give the wheel a nudge and instantly the front wheels follow suit.
There's no delay, no hesitation, no pump or solenoid or control-unit working out what needs to happen next, there's simply directional change.
Ditto the brakes.
To look at through the phone-dial alloy wheels, it doesn't look like a performance brake package. The rotors, although cross-drilled, are too small and the calipers - despite their glossy red coating - lack visual aggression.
But there's so little weight they don't need to be the size of a pizza tray. This is a car that weighs less than half a Calais wagon.
At the track speeds we could manage on our tight indoor course there was no need to mash the pedal to the floor. Even if I came in ham-fisted and had to stomp it, there was instant retardation with capacity to spare.
Drive the 4C, and those things that don't look so flash (isn't that the steering wheel boss from a FIAT 500? Painted door trims in a circa $100k car?) fade into irrelevance.
What you have is a car that is connected directly to the driver - and in the modern age, that's supremely rare.
The engine flies feverishly to the redline and is ridiculously linear at low engine speeds. But push it over 4500rpm and it turns the scenery into a vicious blur (like a good turbo should).
While we only got to run it through the first three gears, and launched hard, the TCT transmission is lightning fast - it will have the next gear plucked before you've even released the steering wheel paddles.
As for playful adjustability - well, the 4C is relentless. Need to pull the nose into line? Simply wash some speed and tilt the wheel.
Chasing a more showy corner exit? Give it some boot and counter-steer to your showy heart's content. Okay, a gripless painted concrete floor might've helped a little there, but these are things you'll be able to replicate it at home.
And if you think Alfa Romeo's current performance offerings, the MiTo and Giulietta QV, point to what the 4C is capable of, think again.
Despite running a modified version of the Giulietta's engine, the lighter and more-focused 4C is an entirely different beast.
This isn't a car for the cafe strip though - It would be a travesty not to see the 4C's of Australia at weekend track days, pounding sinewy mountain roads... or even slaloming around a closed airport hangar!
There's little doubt Alfa Romeo Australia will have a waiting list for this fantastic little belter when the 4C goes on sale later this year.
Our advice: it's sensational, so get in quick if you're interested.
- Interested in buying ALFA ROMEO 4C? Visit our ALFA ROMEO 4C showroom for more information.