2015 Alfa Romeo 4C
Over the years, predictions of Alfa Romeo’s immanent return to the US have been many. But actual cars for driving have been few. Well, that all changes now with this car, the Alfa Romeo 4C. And it’s fitting that the brand chose this back-to-basics fun-machine to re-launch a dealer network here in the states. After all, this car is all about the driving.
Yes, the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C is not a car for everyone. But, if you’re the type that enjoys the straightforward, back-to-basics thrill ride of a sports car; then consider yourself lucky… your new ride just arrived.
Making things as light as possible is always a great sports car strategy, and this mid-engine monocoquester weighs in at only 2,465-pounds. Yes, that’s not as light as the European model, but trust us you won’t notice the additional 100-pounds or so added to meet U.S. crash standards.
Unfortunately, that minimalism takes its toll on the interior. There’s very little storage space or comfort to be found; and crawling in is not graceful for anyone on the high side of 6-feet or on the wrong side of 50. Foot well area is actually plentiful though, except for some slight intrusion on the left side; and the seats have a decent amount of travel. It’s the passenger that actually gets squeezed a bit more.
Seats feel like leather covered racing buckets with some extreme bolstering, and there’s just enough padding in them to drain the fuel tank.
Burning up that fuel is a fun-size 1.7-liter I4 engine. Don’t let the small volume fool you. This little turbo cranks up 237-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque with almost 22 psi of boost. Do you remember when 100-horsepower per liter was a big deal? It looks like those days are long gone.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 24-City, 34-Highway, and 28-Combined…which keeps the Energy Impact Score fairly good at 11.8-barrels of yearly oil use with CO2 emissions of 5.2-tons.
All 4Cs have a paddle shifted twin-clutch automatic transmission for gearing duties. In typical exotic car fashion, it’s not super smooth when tooling in auto mode and it seems in a hurry to get you into higher gears if you let it. But, get more aggressive and drive the car like it was meant to be driven and it responds beautifully.
Equally satisfying is the handling experience with is just pure joy, the way only mid-engine cars with close to 50/50 weight distribution can be. In a break from just about every car on the road, steering is fully manual with no power assist. While that will certainly have its detractors, if you’re buying this car to actually drive it, you won’t mind it at all.
That certainly brings nostalgia to mind, but that’s just the beginning. There’s an upright 60’s driving position that has you looking directly down on the road. The engine is located right behind your head, with a new kind of direct injection; one that injects performance feel directly into your head. But as cool as it sounds, it can also get a little old after prolonged exposure.
There’s a good, thick, flat bottom wheel for the hands; and there’s a real sensation of the road rushing up at you, even when cruising around town. You don’t have to be travelling at arrest worthy speeds to get a full sensory overload rush from this car.
Tires feel every groove in the pavement, and since there’s a direct link to your hands, so do you. You also get a sense that this car will bite you if you’re not judicious with throttle application. You really have to go back to 60s or 70s exotics to get a comparable driving experience.
Acceleration is much more in the modern era. There’s plenty of grip for launching; and a quick trip to 60 is possible in just over 4.0-seconds. Shifts occur in a nanosecond and hit hard, accompanied by a sound symphony of mechanical chaos directly behind you. ¼-mile times are in the 13.0-second range at 106 miles-per-hour. The brakes are full-on “beast mode”; laser straight, nice stiff pedal, and stops of just 99-feet from 60.
Equally adept at bringing a halt to things are the 4C’s beautiful, pure Italian lines. It looks like a baby Ferrari especially in this vibrant red. Spectacular from just about every angle, with the same basic mid-engine proportion layout that worked so well for the prancing horse for decades.
The 4C Launch Edition is all that’s available for the time being, and it’ll cost you $69,695; but once they’re gone a base 4C will start at $55,195.
That makes the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C a small-scale exotic for a fraction of the price; truly a unique experience. It’s not a race car, and it’s not a poseur mobile. It’s a car designed with one thing in mind, driving!
- Engine: 1.7 liter
- Horsepower: 237
- Torque: 258 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 13.0 seconds @ 106 mph
- EPA: 24 mpg city/ 34 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 11.8 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.2 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined
2023 Genesis Electrified GV70
Genesis Waves Their Magic EV Wand Yet Again
The Genesis Electrified GV70 is not only the 3rd all-electric vehicle offering from Hyundai’s luxury division, but it’s also the first Genesis model to be built here in the US. You know, the GV70 was already a big hit with both critics and buyers, so let’s find out if a big pack of batteries and American workers can take it to the next level.
For the 2023 model year, the Genesis GV70 utility has gone electric. And like the Electrified G80 sedan before it, Genesis has integrated an all-electric drivetrain into its existing platform seamlessly and effectively.
Now, it may look almost exactly like the sleek and sophisticated internal combustion powered GV70 SUV that arrived just last year. But packed underneath it all, is the GV60’s next-gen propulsion system that uses a pair of electric motors delivering standard all-wheel drive and 429-horsepower. Both the front and rear-mounted electric motors are 160-kW and produce a combined 516 lb-ft. of torque, relying on energy from a 77.4-kWh battery. Full 350-kW charging capability will get the battery to 80% in just 18-minutes. The Electrified GV70 is rated to travel 236-miles between those charging sessions.
But based on our driving loop, we’d say more is easily possible as we were on pace for over 250-miles; making it an overachiever, much like the G80.
The approach to the interior is not so much a heavy-handed blast of over-the-top luxury, rather just a soothing blend of high-quality metal and leather materials with soft tones, subtle ambient light, and an airy feel that ultimately delivers a very comforting experience.
There’s an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, along with a 14.5-inch touchscreen that houses standard navigation, and it also has a rotary style control on the console if you prefer that, just don’t confuse it with the rotary gear selector like we did. Lexicon audio, quilted leather, and a suede headliner come with the Prestige package that also includes active noise control and white brake calipers.
Regen braking paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel allow for adjusting amounts of regen up to full 1-pedal driving; or you can let Smart Regen take control, gathering data from past driving history, navigation, and road conditions to determine the appropriate amount of braking. Drive modes include Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport +, and Custom, and Genesis has added some additional sound deadening for this EV.
Based on the incredibly quiet, smooth, and steady highway ride we experienced, we weren’t sure what to expect when we pulled this GV70 up to the line at our Mason Dixon Dragway test track.
Well, not much calmness or serenity here, as this thing absolutely blasted off the line like a rocket, hitting 60 in just 3.9-seconds. That’s almost a full 2-seconds quicker than last year’s 2.5-liter turbo-equipped GV70. It’s hard to beat performance-tuned EVs when it comes to torque delivery, and like the GV60, there’s a boost button on the steering wheel that delivers an additional 54-horsepower for a thrilling 10-seconds, helping us clear the ¼ in 12.4-seconds at 112 miles-per-hour.
The low center of gravity, an electronically controlled suspension, and a Disconnector Actuator System that allows for 2-wheel or 4-wheel-drive operation depending on circumstances, helped keep the Electrified GV70 well-planted through our handling course, and provided a livelier feel than the ICE version.
Substantial side bolstering of the front seats kept us settled in place very nicely. Great steering feel, very little body roll, and only minor amounts of understeer at its limits. Brakes were equally as sporting, with good feedback and stability, despite the noticeable nosedive that typically accompanies stopping 5,000-lbs. of utility vehicle in just 111-feet, 6-feet shorter than the standard GV70.
There are some subtle changes outside for this Electrified version of the GV70; it gets unique 20-inch wheels, and as in the G80, the signature crest grille gets an aerodynamic makeover, nicely integrating the charging port. Same 2-line lighting theme up front, and in back, where the rear bumper is reshaped now that there are no tailpipes. Cargo area is well finished with thoughtful use of space; at 28.7 cubic-ft. with a max of 56.5, capacity is down a tiny bit, but a small storage bin up front under the hood more than makes up for it.
At 37-kWh/100 miles, the Electrified GV70 rates a good efficiency score. Pricing starts at $66,975, about 20-grand over a base ICE GV70, and 3-years of free charging at Electrify America charging stations is included.
Genesis is slowly but surely electrifying their lineup, and the 2023 Electrified GV70 is not just another step in the process, but further proof that carmakers can progress to EVs without upsetting the entire apple cart of their brand. Forward thinking but staying classy, just what we’ve come to expect from Genesis.
- Motor Setup: Dual 160-kW Motors
- Horsepower: 429
- 0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 111 feet (avg)
- MW Range: ~254 miles
- Battery Size: 77.4-kWh
- Torque: 516 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 12.4-seconds at 112 mph
- EPA Range: 234 miles
- Efficiency: 37 kWh/ 100 miles