Not that you haven't already noticed, but Alfa Romeo has delivered to mankind a sports car that virtually everybody has documented their insatiable lust for. It's beautiful, save for Alfa's interesting choice in production headlights. Too bad, because the eyes on this baby are the 4C's absolute best quality.
We humans are naturally captivated by visual stimuli – at least initially, until our lizard brains recede and we start thinking rationally about what is presented before us. (How much does this cost? What's the performance like? Is it reliable? Will it baby?) I have a hard time getting to the rationalization part of that equation when viewing the 4C, because it's just so damned mesmerizing. The breakdown of that effect is 90% perceived beauty (flowing lines, creases in the body work, that incredible Alfa red paint, etc.) and about 10% mystique – all of which is entirely due to the crazy (shortcut around a budget gap?) design of the headlights.
Let's ponder on that:
I opened a review this morning from Autoblog's Matt Davis to see a nicely photographed 4C that he recently spent some time with in Italy. The car photographs unbelievably well as it takes every inch of my being to refrain from gushing constantly about this goddamned driving machine all over the internet. The lines, the color, the swoops, the seats, the overpadded steering wheel, the NOISE ... all coupled with the heritage of Alfa's celebrity status: forever boner-worthy Italian cars that are put together shittly with wooden hammers and twine, yet adored endlessly regardless. Even if the craftsmanship of the 4C is intended to rid owners of the memory of hopelessly undependable cars, that pedigree makes this new vehicle just ... perfect.
The best part of all of this– all the fanfare, the critiques, the reviews –is the response to the most controversial element of the entire car: the headlights. But that's what makes it worthy of discussion, no? I would go so far as to say thank you Marchionne for giving Alfa a shitty R&D budget, forcing them to come up with an alternative to those sexy headlamps on the concept car. The production version turned out way more cringe worthy, way more questionable, way uglier than we were ever prepared for ... and the 4C is 950% better for it.
There's a thing than happens in the fine art world where artists, commissioners, and curators will put asinine, almost impossible boundaries on an aspect of the work or its process in order to FORCE a spirt of creativity and imagination. The end result is, more often than not, tremendous – simply because of the unexpectedness of the reveal. Something looks off, feels awkward, begs a startling response ... these are all reactions singularly and uniquely focused on the forward illumination elements, and nothing else, on the 4C. It's a differentiator, a discussion point, a wedge.
Honestly, who is willing to do this nowadays in the automotive world? Anyone? Bueller?
I'm trying to imagine the automotive world's reaction to the 4C if they were graced with the presence of an equally gorgeous car with a more expected, traditional, inconsequential pair of headlights. "They're nice", "They compliment the styling elements of the car perfectly", "They sport an Audi-like LED silhouette around the rim, giving a distinct character line to the car's demeanor" ... a few mentions here and there, and off to ragging on the non-adjustable passenger seat, right?
Here's my only beef with the headlights ("Look! He's just like us!!!"): the carbon fiber option for the headlights make the car look insanely wonderful, as displayed on the pics taken by Davis on this post. But the standard grey plastic that comes on the bottom-barrell car is nearly unacceptable to my eyes. Dealers: break out the masking tape and hit'em with some satin black Rustoleum as soon as they roll off the truck. Woof.
EDIT – Just thought of an aftermarket alternative for the surround finish, although it may trigger the heebie jeebies for those suffering from Trypophobia (I know I sure do):