Alfa Romeo is one of those iconic Italian brands that has always felt unobtainable and elusively remote, a distant sort of dream for the daily drivers of America. The century old Italian motorsport company has had a presence in the States since the ‘60s, but there’s a reemergence happening, a sort of rediscovering as we shift values and start to re-embrace icons and quality, forgoing these silly smart systems full of lane departure alerts and cruise control power tripping so hard it barely lets you drive.

Alfa Romeo is bringing us back to a time where none of that was invented yet, when it was all about horsepower and adventure. Entering an Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe means entering the world of motorsport. It’s one of those brands that became synonymous with being a true motorhead, standing the test of time for automotive enthusiasts throughout the world. The iconic badge is now, more than ever, a symbol of endless innovation and pure driving pleasure.

Alfa Romeo 4C
Alfa Romeo 4C
Alfa Romeo 4C

It’s also a badge that can be awfully elusive, so if you find one, hold on tight and hit the pavement hard. We searched high and low for an Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe to head out of Manhattan and deep into the Delaware Water Gap, instantly falling in love with a vehicle that can make you feel like you’re on the Amalfi Coast from the minute your key hits the ignition and that engine starts to growl.

The 4C is a damn sexy, mid-engined Italian exotic that’s been carved down to an affordable scale. Powered by a 237-hp turbo four and weighing less than 2500 pounds, its zippy power-to-weight ratio matches its zippy steering ratio. The 4C practically anticipates road challenges and is made for those drivers who truly want to drive—not even a USB outlet for your iPhone. Barely any luggage room, and it’s so low it feels like you’re entering a Formula racer. All of which are pros, in our book. This is a car for the internal racer, for the driver who wants to feel the clutch and the roads and all the twists and turns in between.

Alfa Romeo 4C
Alfa Romeo 4C
Alfa Romeo 4C

Heritage and aerodynamic gracefulness are in rather perfect balance here, the design nodding to history and to the unmistakable style of the rare and exotic 33 Stradale, one of the world’s first supercars. Hand built in Modena, the 4C combines two excellences—Alfa engineering and Maserati manufacturing—in one. Each feature of the Alfa Romeo 4C’s breathtaking looks—like its slim volumes, muscular design and air intakes—has a specific aerodynamic function and contributes to creating downforce to increase stability at top speed.

Inside, bucket seats guarantee a comfortable but correct racing posture—this is not a cushy reclining roadtrip vehicle. It’s a racer, through and through. The dashboard is made from a thermoformed shell like those found on limited edition supercars and the controls are all oriented towards the driver to give complete control of the car. Aluminium pedals and heel guards form the last details of a true sporting character.

The perfect little monster.

Brian Aitken test driving the Alfa Romeo 4C