My Experience in the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
By James Wong
From as early as 2003, Alfa Romeo has already shown its interest to the public to build a limited production supercar bounded by exclusivity and performance. The 8C, first unveiled as a concept car at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, showed what Alfa Romeo envisioned its supercar to be: to echo the style of the Alfas of the 1930s-1940s, yet to have the underpinnings of a modern sports car.
The result is plain to see. The production version uses the glorious Maserati 4.7 V8 also used in the Granturismo S, along with a quick-shifting six-speed robotized manual gearbox which can shift gears in as fast as 175 milliseconds. With a kerb weight of slightly above 1.5 tons, the car is sure to be quick. Coming with 6 pot Brembo brakes at the front and 4 pots at the rear, the car can stop in time too, when the need arises. What is more amazing here though, is how Alfa managed to combine all that performance into a car that is left relatively unchanged from its concept design.
Seeing the car in person, I found myself trying to locate where the panel gaps are, because the design is so fluent you don’t expect it to be put together in industrious panels. It’s simply too beautiful, you’ll tell yourself, to be machined by a robot in a production line. It is, if I could say, an organic design – distancing itself from being merely an inanimate object to something that could evoke great emotion.
It is, at the front, perfect where the MiTo is severely flawed; a gaping V-shaped grille in modern Alfa tradition sets the tone, with aggressive air-intake vents lining the bottom. Fog lights are in sets of LEDs on either side of the car, and finishing off the masterpiece are a pair of Xenon headlamps. The side profile cues the viewer to imagine how they managed to create a oval glasshouse so exquisitely-shaped that you don’t know where the A-pillar begins and the C-pillar
starts. These common jargon just do not apply to this car.
The proportions are also so good that your eyes would flow with the car, and when you reach the rear twin circle LED lights complete the look, together with quad-exhausts releasing one of the most astounding sounds in the car world today. It is not unlike that of the Granturismo S, which I had a hearing of sometime last week. This is not surprising considering both cars share the exact same engine. The rear also sports an ‘8C Competizione’ badge in cursive, although the word ‘Competizione’ does look a little messy. It however reminds you that this is not a car built by a machine.
The crank is unusually long, whether done in purpose or not, dishing up anticipation in the driver quite well. You would be at first astounded by the amazing noise the car makes, but pushing the sport button makes the car sound rudely catastrophic. And I mean that in a good way.
Starting the car up, useful information is displayed before the driver in the instrument panel: coolant temperature, engine oil temperature and the fuel gauge. You seat yourself in the amazing red bucket seats and they literally grab you. The fine leather combined with a textured rattan-like pattern are simply stunning, and you are both in comfort and yet locked in securely. A rare combination.
What came as a disappointment to me was the faux carbon fibre trim in certain parts of the interior. Well, actually, in quite a lot of parts – the whole dashboard and the top trimming of the doors. But you would soon forget about them as they are hard-wearing and durable.
Air-conditioning controls are in dials, and the power windows, central locking and the like are all operated in aircraft-like levers. The door handles in the interior are also unique – you may at first think they are cubby-holes. All in all, the interior feels like a good place to be in, but it could have been better in a car that’s all about bespoke exclusivity and individuality.
The car has no boot – not exactly, anyway – and instead has a rear windscreen that opens to allow some storage. That said, not much can be stored in the rear in this otherwise tiny car (in relation to the GTS).
I like the Alfa 8C. Ever since I saw the pictures of the car as a concept, I knew Alfa Romeo had a winner in its hands. It was simply a dream come true to see the car actually being made in limited production and then sold – a bold move by Alfa, which would not see its traditional customers looking into the 8C at all. And yet, almost all units of this car has been spoken for, and those on sale now are fetching above list prices. Whether the 8C would go down as a true classic, only time would tell, but our generation can cherish in the fact that Alfa Romeo has built us a supercar. It might be a long time before it will release something like that ever again.
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