Sweet Dream: Alfa Romeo 4C-R

Alfa Romeo 4C-R

With a carbon tub, bare-bones interior and no power steering, some would argue that the Alfa Romeo 4C is already as hardcore as the German film industry.

Not us. We reckon there’s room for an even more extreme version, a GT3-inspired track day special that takes full advantage of the 4C’s ultra-stiff carbon credentials and mid-engined layout.

It’s the perfect project for Alfa Romeo’s new ‘skunkworks’ division, a small engineering team headed by two senior Ferrari staff and created to give Alfa back its performance edge.

The team is dedicated to developing advanced, innovative engines and unique technical solutions, and the 4C is the perfect base on which to practise their craft.

The standard 4C weighs 895kg (dry) and is powered by a 1.75-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 176kW and 350Nm.

Its no-frills specification means there isn’t much we can do about the former, but there’s scope for improvement in the latter.

The 4C’s biggest frustration, though, is its handling, an area where it should excel. Inconsistent steering response and unresolved on-limit behaviour frustrate, with understeer the order of the day on track. Easily fixed, we reckon, and this is how.

Engine: Alfa has already confirmed a 221kW version of its 1.75-litre turbo four is in development, so that’s a no-brainer to power the 4C GT3. Expect around 400Nm of torque, and the 0-100km/h time to drop from 4.5 seconds to 3.8.

Suspension: The 4C’s rear MacPherson Strut suspension was a cost saving measure and is far from ideal. Extensive re-engineering would be required for it to accept a similar double-wishbone arrangement at the front, but the extra precision would be worth it.

Wheels/tyres/brakes: Rims, a half-inch wider at both ends, wear Pirelli P Zero Corsas – 10mm wider at the rear (245/35R19), while the fronts are up 20mm (225/35R18) to kill the 4C’s on-limit understeer. Floating rotors are coupled with six-pot calipers up front and two-pot calipers at the back.

Steering: Our first addition would be electrically-assisted power steering. Controversial? Perhaps, but it also allows finer tuning of the front-end and gives more predictable steering responses. And, electrical assistance keeps weight gain to a minimum.

Body: Thanks to its carbon tub, a lighter 4C is near impossible. In fact, there’s every chance the R would end up heavier with an aero kit. However as most 4Cs are nudging 1000kg with options like a radio and air-con, the R would sit around 950kg with fluids.

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