Johannesburg - Alfa Romeo’s 4C is everything a Italian sports-car should be: it’s gorgeous to the point of pornography, distinctive enough that nobody will ever mistake it for a Porsche, handles like it’s on rails and steers like a kart.

What it’s not however, is a killer street car. In the right hands a well-tuned hot hatch will smoke it, light to light, and any two-door Porsche will spank it on a track day. So the owner of this particular 4C sat down with the petrolheads at RGM Motorsport and planned a serious upgrade for the little cutie from Turin - a proper, old-school engine build.

Never mind ‘chipping and piping and upping the boost’, they did it the old-fashioned way, tearing the engine down to the last nut and bolt, and rebuilding it from the ground up with every performance upgrade thay could think of and a few you won’t. They started with Omega pistons on Arrow conrods, upping the compression ratio from the standard 9.25:1 to 10:1, gas-flowed and ported the cylinder head, bolted on a custom made carbon-fibre cold air intake system.

A bigger-than-standard Garrett GTX28/71R ceramic ball bearing turbo on a custom ceramic-coated turbo manifold amps up maximum boost from 1.45 to 2.45 bar. And the extra plumbing, Cyril, feeds the water-methanol injection system - yes, it’s old-school (it was first used in aircraft nearly 80 years ago) but as a source of chemical supercharging it’s hard to beat. Because Alfas are built to go round corners, oil surge would become an issue on track days, so an electronically-controlled and rev-dependent pump forces oil into the sump under high lateral-G conditions.

The result? Power at the flywheel has gone from 177kW to a howling 388kW (more than double!) at 6500 revs and peak torque is up from the standard 350 to 610Nm. We’ll save you the calculation: that’s a 74.3 percent improvement. So, to help the standard transmission keep its cool, they fitted an Alfaworks Kevlar/sintered copper button clutch and a gearbox oil cooler as well.

Running gear upgrades are far less radical but just as comprehensive: ride height has been lowered and roadholding improved by fully-adjustable KW Variant Three dampers all round, braking is entrusted to stock callipers (with upgraded hydraulic fluid and high-performance brake-pads) clamping down on RGM-Vari hook-slotted and heat-treated discs, and the widened rims now wear super-sticky 225/40-18 front and 265/30-19 rear Toyo 888 tyres.

The car’s performance capabilities will be left to the owner to explore; suffice it to say that this particular Alfa 4C won’t back down for any hot hatch you’re likely to see on the road. And not many Porsches either.

IOL Motoring