2020 Audi R8 vs. 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The R8 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 4C doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The R8 has standard Parking System Plus to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The 4C doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The R8 has standard Audi Connect CARE, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 4C doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the R8 and the 4C have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The Audi R8 weighs 1029 to 1173 pounds more than the Alfa Romeo 4C. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

The R8’s corrosion warranty is 8 years longer than the 4C’s (12 vs. 4 years).

There are over 75 percent more Audi dealers than there are Alfa Romeo dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the R8’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the R8’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 4C’s camshafts. If the 4C’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the R8 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The 4C’s 160-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Alfa Romeo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 22nd in initial quality. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Alfa Romeo is ranked 29th.

Engine

The R8 V10’s standard 5.2 DOHC V10 produces 325 more horsepower (562 vs. 237) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (406 vs. 258) than the 4C’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. The R8 V10 Performance/Decennium’s standard 5.2 DOHC V10 produces 365 more horsepower (602 vs. 237) and 155 lbs.-ft. more torque (413 vs. 258) than the 4C’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the R8’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 4C doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The R8 V10 Performance’s standard fuel tank has 8.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the 4C (19.3 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The R8’s standard fuel tank has 11.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the 4C (21.9 vs. 10.5 gallons).

Transmission and Drivetrain

A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Audi R8, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the 4C.

All wheel drive, available in the R8, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Alfa Romeo 4C is not available with all wheel drive.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the R8’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 4C:

R8

R8

4C

Front Rotors

14.4 inches

15 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

14 inches

14 inches

11.5 inches

The R8 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The 4C doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the R8 has larger standard tires than the 4C (F:245/35R19 & R:295/35R19 vs. F:205/45R17 & R:235/40R18). The R8’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 4C (F:245/30R20 & R:305/30R20 vs. F:205/45R17 & R:235/40R18).

The R8’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4C’s standard 45 series front and 40 series rear tires. The R8’s optional tires have a lower 30 series profile than the 4C’s optional 40 series front and 35 series rear tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the R8 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels are standard on the 4C. The R8’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels optional on the 4C.

Suspension and Handling

The R8 offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The 4C’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The R8 has standard power steering to make quick and controllable low speed maneuvers easy. The 4C doesn’t offer power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the R8’s wheelbase is 10.6 inches longer than on the 4C (104.3 inches vs. 93.7 inches).

For better maneuverability, the R8’s turning circle is 3.8 feet tighter than the 4C’s (36.7 feet vs. 40.5 feet).

Passenger Space

The R8 has .5 inches more front headroom and 5.3 inches more front shoulder room than the 4C.

Cargo Capacity

The R8 Spyder has a larger trunk than the 4C Spider (4 vs. 3.7 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The R8 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 4C uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the R8 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the 4C. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

When different drivers share the R8, the memory system makes it convenient. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and climate settings. The 4C doesn’t offer a memory system.

The R8’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The 4C has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

The R8’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The 4C’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The R8’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 4C’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

If the windows are left open on the R8 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 4C can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Audi Advanced Key standard on the R8 allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Alfa Romeo 4C doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The R8’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 4C’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

The R8 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the R8 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The R8’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 4C’s power mirror controls are on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

When the R8 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The 4C’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The R8’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 4C doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.

The R8 has standard heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the 4C.

The R8’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 4C doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The R8’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

To help keep the driver’s hands on the wheel, the R8 has standard steering wheel controls for the radio. The 4C doesn’t offer steering wheel audio controls.

To direct the driver from any location to a given street address, a GPS navigation system is standard on the R8. The R8’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The 4C doesn’t offer a navigation system.

With standard voice command, the R8 offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The 4C doesn’t offer a voice control system.

Model Availability

The Audi R8 comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Alfa Romeo 4C isn’t available as a coupe.

Recommendations

The Audi R8 outsold the Alfa Romeo 4C by almost four to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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