Alfa Romeo 8C

The wait is finally over and Alfa Romeo has a supercar fit for the premier league

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Italy’s car history isn’t short on performance stunners – and the 8C Competizione deserves a place in that hall of fame. Its classically beautiful shape will stop onlookers in their tracks and please Alfa traditionalists, yet with a carbon fibre body, complex aerodynamics and a new V8, it certainly doesn’t look to the past. Factor in true exclusivity and you’ve got one very special supercar.

We’re used to Italian exotics from Ferrari and Lamborghini, but Alfa now plans to push upmarket – and it’s created this stunning machine to spearhead the exclusive assault.

The 8C Competizione is a sports coupé with searing performance, sensational styling... and a £100,000 price tag. Originally debuting in concept form at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the car is ready to order for delivery in a year’s time. And to see what those lucky buyers can expect, Auto Express was first to get behind the wheel.

When Alfa took the wraps off the 8C, few people thought it would make production unchanged. But, as you can see here – and as visitors discovered at last week’s Paris Motor Show – it retains all the concept’s amazing details.

At the front, the gaping air intakes and fared-in headlights give a really aggressive look, and they’re matched for visual drama only by the quad exhaust pipes and twin circular tail-lights at the rear. But it’s the classic sports car shape, with a long bonnet and short tail, that’s the real star feature. It’s been made possible by an aerodynamic undertray which sucks the model down on to the road at speed, doing away with the need for ugly wings and spoilers.

The body itself is bang up-to-date, too, being made of carbon fibre on a steel spaceframe chassis. Sitting well behind the front axle virtually in the middle of the car is the 8C’s heart – a 450bhp 4.7-litre V8, which is shared with the forthcoming Maserati Coupé. The two models will be built on the same production line in Modena, Italy.

Just like Alfas of the past, the gearbox and differential are mounted toge-ther at the rear, helping to give the 8C perfect 50:50 weight distribution. The suspension is double wishbone all-round, while huge vented Brembo disc brakes hide behind the 20-inch alloys.

Inside, the cabin is classic Alfa, with twin cowls for the speedo and rev counter, plus a simple facia with carbon fibre trim. The shell-type racing seats, also carbon fibre, are clad in the luxurious leather used by Ferrari.

Our model was one of the first 8C prototypes, and was fitted with a conventional six-speed manual box. Cus­tomer cars will use a semi-automatic version, which will allow the driver to change gear via the steering wheel-mounted paddles. With some chassis fine-tuning still to be done, our drive was brief, but it’s obvious that the 8C is a true Italian sports car.

The V8 roars into life at a push of the starter button, revving angrily and noisily like a thoroughbred racer. Stab the throttle and the 470Nm of torque has no trouble launching the 1,400kg car away from the line. Alfa says it’ll do 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 190mph – and from the driver’s seat, it certainly feels savagely fast.

Backing up this huge acceleration are rock-solid brakes, which slow the 8C as if you’ve hit a wall. And while we couldn’t quite put the Alfa through its paces in corners, the steering is alive with feel even at low speed. The stiff suspension offers immediate responses, promising a truly involving drive.

Is there a downside to the 8C? Just one: the fact only 500 models will be built. If you have this kind of cash, we’d advise you to get in the queue now!

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