It has been 14 years since Alfa Romeos have been sold in America, and the Italian automaker seems bent on making up lost time by having the 8C Competizione be their reintroduction to the American markets. Yes, it is very expensive, and yes, there are other cars that can go faster or corner better, but the 8C is indicative of what Alfa Romeo is all about, and many fans of the brand are hoping that the 8C’s arrival on North American shores is merely the first of many.
Just going by the numbers, the 8C demands attention. It is powered by a Ferrari-based 4.7-liter V8 that pumps out 450 horsepower. The engine is mounted behind the front axle and is balanced by a rear transaxle and drivetrain that is mounted in front of the rear axle. This provides the 8C with a perfect weight balance, giving the car impressive handling. The transmission comes from a Maserati, and the car can go from 0-to-60 in 4.6 seconds. This is, however, where the numbers start to fall apart. Nissan’s new GT-R can do 0-to-60 in 3.2 seconds and the Corvette ZR1 puts up a similar time, and both vehicles cost a third of what the 8C does.
So what is it that draws driving enthusiasts to Alfa Romeo? Ask three different Alfa fans and you’ll receive three different answers. One will probably highlight the incredible styling of Alfa’s vehicles. In a market where it is sometimes easy to confuse one brand’s cars with another’s, there is no mistaking an Alfa. The second fan will probably answer that driving an Alfa is different from any other car. This arises from a number of factors: superlative attention to cabin detail, great ergonomics, and, again, the style of an Alfa’s interior. The third Alfa fan may talk about the sound of the cars. Even the most supercar-esque Alfa delivers a unique sound. None of the throaty growls found in muscle cars and none of the high-pitched whine found in many performance models.
Alfa Romeo’s vehicles aren’t for everybody, but there are more than a few fans of the brand. The initial run of the 8C Competizione is scheduled to be under 1,000 cars, and every one of those was spoken for many months before the model went on sale. There are many who don’t know much about Alfa Romeo, and considering how expensive the 8C is, they are unlikely to try to buy one. However, if Alfa can find a market in North America, those unitiated may get their chance to see what all the fuss is about.