Not all European exotics pack mega-power engines and 300-km/h top speeds. Case in point, Alfa Romeo's 4C, which puts emphasis on driving thrills with a stripped-down, minimalist approach to performance motoring.
Given that the 4C launched just last year, changes for 2016 are limited.
The 4C coupe now receives a standard locking console for added security, while the 4C Spider gains a new and improved alarm. Both cars get an Alpine stereo system including premium speakers and a new headunit. The stereo itself is still a simple, single-DIN setup that looks like an aftermarket piece from the '90s, but it's an improvement over the outgoing model and features Bluetooth and a USB input. A reverse camera isn't available, but rear parking sensors are when the car is equipped with the optional Convenience Group.
Other nifty add-ons include a carbon fibre halo for the 4C Spider, which trims the area directly behind the cabin in unpainted carbon fibre, while a new Carbon Trim Package available on coupe and convertible adds carbon fibre accents to the instrument cluster, instrument panel, and around the base of the push-button shifter.
Joining black and red colours for the interior is a new shade of brown called Tobacco. When the Leather Trimmed Interior option is selected, it adds matching brown stitching to the dashboard and doors.
From a mechanical standpoint, the 4C provides a blend of old-school know-how and modern-day technology. Powering the 4C is a 1.75-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that spits out 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. Don?t let the numbers fool you; this is a potent car capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in a smidge over four seconds. The mid-mounted engine drives the rear wheels through Alfa's trick Q2 electronically controlled differential.
The old-school bit? It's pretty much the only car on sale today that forgoes power steering. A forearm-building exercise at low speeds, the squared-off two-spoke steering wheel provides tactile feedback once speed picks up.
Despite its small size and tiny engine, the 4C commands a fairly sizeable asking price. Part of the reason, other than the exotic construction material, is that the 4C is assembled by hand by the same craftspeople that build Maseratis, and the whole process takes six weeks from start to finish.
Pricing for the 4C coupe starts at $66,495, with the 4C Spider selling for $78,495.