Alfa Romeo 8C

We get behind the wheel of the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 8C.

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

This stunning limited-edition Alfa Romeo is sure to become an investor’s dream. In spite of the unusual carbon and steel construction, there’s little that the Italian firm hasn’t got right first time. The performance and handling are out of this world, and few cars at any price can rival its combination of heritage, glamour and style. Even the retro-look cabin is a joy to behold. A limited production run also ensures exclusivity, so it’s a pity they’ve all been sold.

Feast your eyes on Alfa Romeo’s once impossible dream. The gorgeous 8C Competizione has been wowing motor show crowds for four years. But when it first appeared in 2003, few thought it would survive the firm’s then considerable financial problems.

Yet here we are, alongside its 4.4 metres of scarlet-bodied V8 muscle, set to be unleashed on Alfa’s private track in northern Italy.

Named after a series of amazingly successful racing cars designed in the Thirties, the 8C borrows its 450bhp, 4.7-litre V8 engine and chassis from sister company Maserati.

The carbon fibre body is assembled in Fiat’s workshops in Turin, and the gearbox is Alfa’s six-ratio Selespeed semi-automatic. With a steel chassis bolted to the self-supporting body, the newcomer is heavy, at 1.6 tonnes.

The model has a traditional feel, with no hi-tech electronic damper adjustments. What you get is race-derived wishbone suspension and huge all-steel disc brakes, with six-piston calipers. The transmission offers fully automatic and manual modes, plus there is a sport button, which sharpens gearbox and throttle res-ponses, and opens an exhaust valve to make the 8C sound more throaty.

The cabin is trimmed in aluminium, carbon, leather, fabric and carpet, and we counted five different finishes on the seat facings alone. The carbon fibre-backed racing seats hold you comfortably close to the leather steering wheel and your specially made luggage straps to the bulkhead behind you.

At the rear, there’s a 90-litre fuel tank, and under the lifting glass hatchback is the world’s smallest boot – just big enough for a briefcase.

With the sport button disengaged and automatic mode on, it’s a job to see what all the fuss is about. The 8C rides well and sounds sporty, but then so does a £16,000 Hyundai Coupé. Press both buttons, however, and the transformation is spectacular.

The gearchange comes alive, the throttle responds to even the slightest stroke and the 8C makes a rasping, gurgling roar that sounds more like an entire race grid than a single car.

It feels wonderfully manoeuvrable, and the engine is simply amazing. The brakes are powerful, and are easy to use hard. In short, this model makes you look good in a way that Alfas haven’t for far too long.

Sadly, there is a catch: only 500 examples of the 8C Competizione will be built. And they’re already sold, with 40 lucky UK buyers set to take delivery in January. Sexy Alfas are back, and that’s a good thing. But we could do with a few more next time!

RIVAL: ASTON V8 VANTAGE The 175mph baby Aston gives the 8C a run for its money in looks, but can’t match it for sheer handling, ultimate pace or exclusivity.

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