The brassy bark of Ferrari’s dry-sumped, flat-crank, 4.7-litre V8 yelps to a pin-sharp 5000rpm with the merest prod of your toe, and crackles and spits on its way back down to idle. Soundtracks get no more addictive or auspicious than this.
Now select ‘Sport’ mode (this leaves the exhaust bypass valves open, sharpens the throttle response and quickens the VDC stability control system), pull back on the right-hand gearshift paddle and nose out onto an empty road.
The quick but heavy steering almost feels unassisted at dawdling speeds; the ride is stiff, unforgiving. There’s not much protection from wind noise, even less from the roar of those massive wheels and tyres.
From low revs the Alfa Romeo 8C feels brisk, but at about 4000rpm it explodes into full stride, squatting and squirming on its huge rear wheels, and tearing towards the horizon.
Pedal response is fantastic, and the car’s brakes feel even more powerful than its engine, even though the pedal positioning means that you do have to left-foot brake for comfort.
The Alfa Romeo 8C’s chassis is at its best on smooth surfaces; over broken ones it’s much more foreboding. There's plenty of traction, but a compromised ride leaves little room for bump absorption.
At the limit, the Alfa Romeo 8C’s balance is a bit erratic too. You’re never 100 percent sure whether you’ll get understeer or razor-sharp turn-in at any given corner – it’s usually the former if bumps are involved, but not always. The vast dry-weather grip makes the car tricky to adjust on the throttle too.
When the car hooks up and grips, though, it feels marvellous, changing direction with incredible zeal, and rocketing out of corners.
Unlike the last dream Alfa, the SZ, this car needs no more power. It actually feels a little like a better-looking, more desirable TVR T350C; short-of-wheelbase, firm, noisy, agile and quick. But a bit unpredictable.
Does the 8C deserve its mantle alongside the Ferrari F430?
Technically, the 8C has been sold out since its first day on sale.
A few of the UK’s number were available via specialist dealers as ultra-low mileage pre-registered cars, but at a premium over what was already an incredible price for an Alfa Romeo. Now, you’ll be asked to pay close to £230,000 for one.
So is this car really worth more than a Ferrari F430 Scuderia? As a piece of automotive artifice, yes. As a properly exciting supercar, maybe. As a thoroughbred machine for fast road driving, unfortunately not.
But if you’d be the sort of owner who’s happy to accept an Alfa instead of a Lamborghini, you’d probably also be open-minded enough to overlook the absence of that final degree of dynamic polish for a car you’re simply in love with.