• Oct 9th 2009 at 11:56AM
  • 71
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione - Click above for high-res image gallery

Imagine you're a male (Autoblog surveys say most of you are, so this shouldn't be hard). You've been invited to the Playboy Mansion for their annual Halloween party. You arrive, grab a flute of bubbly, get introduced to the crusty remains of Hugh Hefner and after a few minutes lay eyes on the most beautiful specimen of redheaded femininity the world has ever seen. You fight your knees from buckling, walk over and give it the ol' college try. Miraculously, you hit it off. She's entertaining, interesting and a joy to see and be seen with. One thing leads to another and you make your way upstairs into one of Heff's exotically appointed love dens.

You're ready to embark on one of the most pleasurable experiences of your life when... there's no spark. No connection. No chemistry. You use every trick in the book to make things work, but to no avail. Despite her arsenal of attributes, this exquisite example of sensuality just doesn't "do it" for you.

If you can understand that scenario, then you can understand our brief, uninspiring stint with the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. Read on for more.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
The 8C has been around long enough that you already know what matters. It's stunning, perfectly proportioned and should only be available in one color: Competition Red. Beneath its achingly gorgeous carbon fiber exterior you'll find the same platform that underpins the Maserati Gran Turismo, along with a dry-sump 4.7-liter V8 hand assembled by Ferrari. A six-speed sequential gearbox channels the bent eight's 450 horsepower (at 7,000 RPM) and 354 pound-feet of torque (at 4,750 RPM) to a limited slip differential nestled between the rear wheels, delivering a claimed 0-60 MPH sprint of 4.2 seconds and a top speed over 180 MPH.

Open up the long, upkicked door and another side of the 8C's character unfolds in front of you. The seats, which place your posterior a few inches from terra firma, belong in MOMA. They're masterfully sculpted, assertively clinging to your back and legs, and coated in the finest cowhide old man Giuseppe can rustle up outside Modena.

The dash is another modern masterwork of minimalism, with a faultless blend of carbon fiber and aluminum adorning the center stack, tunnel, doors and steering wheel. Ah, but wait. Something's amiss in the boot-shaped land. It would appear Alfa's beancounters couldn't stomach the cost of a carbon fiber dash, transmission tunnel and two door panels. They're all fake, save the panel housing the start button, transmission modes and parking brake switch. But no matter. After you depress the cold aluminum "Engine Start" button to breathe life into the high-strung V8 ahead of you, the faux fiber is the least of your concerns.

A rousing burble rockets out the rear, followed by an electronically controlled blip before the 8C settles into a soothing, seductive idle. The world melts away as you grab the paddle shifter, engage first, let off of the brake and beginning slowly making your way onto the road.

The ride is on the rough side, as if Alfa's engineers simply figured that Hard directly translates into Handling. But we've endured stiffly sprung rides before and the 8C is a proper exotic, so we want that sense of hardened agility with a wanton disregard for chiropractic costs.

But just as we start to stretch its legs across the rolling hills of the Napa Valley, it becomes abundantly clear that the while the 8C can make it through a workout, it doesn't enjoy the exercise.

The steering wheel, which is a bit on the big side for a such a sporting ride, conveys every lump and divot into your palms, but fails to completely communicate the interaction between the tires and the tarmac. The overly taut suspension crashes along some of the more neglected sections of our drive loop, causing the 8C to skip significantly when speeds increase and corner forces test the aging underpinnings. And while the power delivery and lock, load and explode gear changes – particularly with Sport mode engaged – are enough to send your skull into the headrest, the visceral thrills aren't a product of thrust – they come from manhandling the 8C into submission, keeping all four tires in constant contact with the road and avoiding tail-out, off-road excursions when trying to jump from apex to corner exit.

What we have here is a failure to communicate. And it never went away.

The more we pushed, the more it shoved. And after 20 miles of attempting to connect, all we were left with was a disconcerting air of apprehension. The only bright spot to be found were the brakes, which proved unflappable throughout our drive, providing consistent, fade-free pedal feel time after time. But even that lone light wasn't enough to instill confidence at anything beyond six or seven tenths, begging the question: What happened?

Realizing that only 500 examples would find their way to obscenely wealthy collectors, did Fiat – Alfa's parent company – simply rush the chassis and suspension development, trying desperately to keep costs in check, while focusing solely on appearance? Maybe. But for something so inexcusably attractive, you expect performance to be on par. And it simply isn't. Making the Alfa Romeo 8C Competitizione the one redheaded supermodel we would kick out of bed.

Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Thanks to Douglas Magnon, president of the Riverside International Automotive Museum, who provided one of the 99 8Cs imported to the U.S. for photos and many thanks to World Class Driving for lending us their 8C for testing. You can get more information about WCD's extensive exotic car driving programs here and check out their new program, I Drive Green.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Healthy Arizonan
      • 9 Months Ago

      The Alfa Romeo 4C for 2015 - My Opinion

      Although I agree I have to disagree...I mean if you swing your perspective around and look at the 4C FOR WHAT IT REALLY IS then a better understanding may be obtained. What is it in reality? A beautiful limited edition Red Head for under $100,000! What this Alfa Romeo is, is an exception to the rule...Something that can move you from a dead standstill to 60MPH in 4.3 seconds and continue well past 150MPH with little to no effort again all under $100,000...maybe, like every other true work of art it may just be ahead of its time?

      For a better perspective on how unique this Alfa Romeo really is swing over to 200 Miles Per Hour and look at some of the offerings from others like Porsche, Mercedes, Maserati and more...see how fast $100,000-$200,000 can go when talking about SPEED!!!


      • 1 Year Ago
      Funny that back in the 70's the 8 cyl. Ferrari Dino was considered a joke. Now try to buy one. Put this car in the Garage and take it out 30 years from now and I'm sure it will kick your 401k into oblivion
      • 5 Years Ago
      What Jeremy Clarkson said about the DB9 can be said about this as well: "That's not really a racing car. That's just pornography."
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you search around, Clarkson's already done a review of the 8c. He said much the same... agreed with the handling presumptions of AutoBlog (said it was rubbish) but as he put it, he just doesn't care. He still loves it.

        In as far as the comment about the MiTo getting it wrong. Where have you heard that? The one thing Marchionne is getting wrong is by NOT agreeing to bring the MiTo here. It's the one sure fire thing that'll keep me out of an Alfa dealership when I look to buy my next ride. Granted, that'll be down the road as I just bought my current car in '07 and likely won't buy another for quite awhile but... the MiTo = awesome and if it was brought here, it'd definitely be on my A-List (then again, so would Seat as a whole).

        If there's anything not being done right it's the lack of a rush to get a U.S. or Canadian factory tooled up to build U.S. market Alfa's for sale here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't care if it looked like that but ran only only three cylinders, I'd still have one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      oh boo hoo, you didn't connect with it, it isn't exciting. ITS A FRICKIN ALFA ROMEO 8C IT CAN BE WHATEVER IT WANTS TO BE!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Alfisti response: The car is fine, you are wrong. End of.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Perhaps you 'guys' would prefer something in a tranny?
        • 5 Years Ago
        THAT is hilarious, sir.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Overhyped, overpriced car.
      I am glad you agree with Top Gear about the analysis of this car.
      The dealership down the road from me had a red one for sale in the showroom for over 5 months and now it has a silver one that has been sitting in the showroom for a couple of months now.
      I can see why even in all of its exclusivity, it is not in demand.
        • 5 Years Ago
        a hand build ferrari engine?
        limited to 500 pieces?


        i don't know exactly what to say, but i rather should keep my mouth shut, before i insult a few millions north americans.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As Jezza said, its art. It is beautiful and serves no other purpose.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Architecture= design. Art without purpose is art. Functional art is design. There is a massive difference.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You mean architecture as in the pretty facade of a column, or eaves that do nothing more than a standard plain-faced unit could do? Yeah, that's art too. I love it because it looks great and it does nothing else.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, as much as I am entertained by him, Jezza is quite the blow-hard.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you mean architecture serves no purpose ?
      • 5 Years Ago
      quite different than in road and track road test

      • 5 Years Ago
      Sticking with the theme: this is the Kim Kardashian of cars... curvy, loud, and admired.... but not by me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's still quite a beauty to view.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agreed. I don't get the drop-jaw'ed drool that so many have for the 8C either.

        By comparison, I love the vaporware Fisker Artega GT far better:


        Now if they'd just freakin' build it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        me too, i think it looks pretty mediocre. i would never spend that kind of money for such a car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If the 8C Competizione is as lousy a drive as reported then this will become a very tragic moment in Alfa history. There is almost nothing worse than promising great performance via a fabulous design and not delivering it (it's called deception... ie: lying). This will be ruinous.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How about Kim laying naked across the bonnet?

        My pants are suddenly tighter...
        • 5 Years Ago
        i think that from now on 8c reviews have to only talk about how good it looks

        that is the whole point of the car

        dont ask about the personality
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the visceral thrills are a result of manhandling the car, isn't that a good thing? It's coming from the fruits of your labor...actually driving the car. Certainly nobody expects GTR performance.

      I think more time and a better road are necessary to properly evaluate this car.

        • 5 Years Ago
        This car sounds like it has a little attitude. Some can look at it as flaws and as such then most old Italian cars, Porsche 911s, etc. have them. Bottom line, most people who own and enjoy cars will have more fun running a "flawed" sportscar around the track than one which does everything perfectly. Journalists tend to love the boring stuff and criticize anything that doesn't fall into their narrow soulless categories. If it were up to them the 911 would be cancelled, old italian cars would be worthless, old racecars even more so, and anything that dared called itself a sportscar would have a mid-engine layout and have a great stereo with nav, cup holders, and ice cold ac.
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