Review: Alpine A110 (2018)
Quite possibly the most fun you can have in a car for less than £50,000. Rides well and returns impressive fuel economy.
Only available with an automatic gearbox. The interior is leagues apart from an Audi TT's.
Alpine A110 (2018): At A Glance
The 2018 Alpine A110 was the first production car to carry the Alpine brand since the launch of the A610 in 1991.
The original Alpine A110 appeared in the early 1960s and was the first car ever produced by the company. It was a hugely capable rally car and enjoyed some notable wins on the world stage until its production ended in the mid-1970s, which is roughly the same time the company was bought by Renault and became its sporting brand (pronounced Al-peen).
The new A110 is a new mid-engined, two-seater sports car to take on the likes of the Porsche Cayman, Audi TT and Alfa Romeo 4C. It has an aluminium chassis and body for optimum weight saving and agility. In fact it weighs just 1098kg - less than a Ford Fiesta.
Combine such a low kerb weight with a feisty new 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine which produces 252PS and peak torque of 320Nm and you have a fairly quick little car on your hands. It will hit 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds - but concentrating so strongly on numbers is doing this car a disservice.
Enthusiastic drivers will revel in the A110's direct steering, amusing soundtrack and lightweight approach, while its seven-speed DCT automatic transmission does little to dull the appeal. Drive modes mean you can dial up the drama when required, although the fixed suspension is almost perfectly judged no matter what the occasion.
Of course, as you'd expect from a car like this, there is a compromise. And that's the interior. You won't find any premium-looking materials in the cabin and there's very little in the way of practicality. There's just enough room for a few soft weekend bags in the Alpine's two boots, but nowhere to store the handbook and definitely no room for the kids.
For those who aren't as fussed about how a car drives, there are better options out there. The Porsche Cayman has greater badge appeal, while the Audi TT has a superb interior and more technology. But as a driver's car, there's little else for the money which has the appeal of the Alpine - which is pretty impressive for a first attempt in more than 20 years.
It will be a niche model, but if you've got a spare £50,000 to spend on a play thing, the A110 makes an incredible weekend toy.
What does a Alpine A110 (2018) cost?
Alpine A110 (2018): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 196 litres
If you're expecting an interior that feels anything like as premium as an Audi TT, you're going to be disappointed. Renault (sorry, Alpine) has spent all its engineering budget on making the A110 drive better than a Cayman. And seemingly that means there was no cash left to spend on the interior. Besides, fitting lots of leather and feel-good gadgets would add weight - and that defeats the point.
Even getting in and out of the A110 requires flexibility (especially in a tight car park), but once you're in there's a surprising amount of room - even for tall adults, thanks to the low-mounted seats and generous levels of adjustment (at least in the Legende model). Just the two adults, obviously, as there aren't any rear seats.
There isn't a glove box or even door pockets. There might be two boots (one up front, one behind the engine), but neither are particularly big. You'll have to pack light and suggest your passenger brings squashable luggage if you're planning a weekend away.
We advise spending some time familiarising yourself with where everything's located, as buttons for simple things like adjusting the volume of the radio are illogically positioned. And once you find them, they look like they're more suited to a Renault Clio than a £50,000 sports car.
The infotainment system is even more disappointing. It's slow and frustrating to use plus there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto available - a far cry from the Audi TT, which displays both on its Virtual Cockpit behind the steering wheel.
This is all sounding pretty negative, but it does have a kind of race car feel about it. You'll have to decide whether you're willing to live with the lack of practicality and soft-touch materials to drive such a rewarding sports car.
Equipment from launch (June 2019):
Pure trim features a chrome centre exhaust, electric heated door mirrors, tinted rear glass, LED front headlights, LED tail lights with sweeping turn signals, selectable driving modes (normal, sport and track), 17-inch alloy wheels, paddle shifters on steering column, steering wheel with adjustable reach and rake, lightweight bucket seats, automatic climate control, electric windows, seven-inch touchscreen multimedia system with GPS navigation including European maps, two USB ports, Bluetooth, cruise control with speed limiter and hill-start assist.
Legende adds front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, 18-inch alloy wheels, aluminum pedals, six-way adjustable comfort seats and a lightweight Focal audio system.
Child seats that fit a Alpine A110 (2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Alpine A110 (2018) like to drive?
From first impressions, you might expect the A110 to be a slightly intimidating car to drive. After all, it does look and feel a bit like a Lotus Elise - a car that can be driven very quickly by anyone with talent, but feels franky terrifying in real-world conditions to the rest of us.
But the A110 isn't scary at all. Its steering is lighter than you'd envisage, but it still provides plenty of feedback to encourage you to push the A110 harder into bends.
With the engine located over the rear wheels, the amount of grip on offer is incredible. Even in the rain, it takes a high level of commitment to unstick them - something that should only be done on track. If you do find the limits, though, the stability control soon reigns the A110 in.
Its double-wishbone suspension is perfectly judged to provide a sporty ride without being too uncomfortable. Sure, hit a pothole and you'll know about it, but it doesn't feel lacking for not having the trick adaptive suspension of its premium German rivals.
We'd recommend hitting the sport mode button if you're in the mood for a bit of theatre, as this increases the noise of the exhaust and adds some childish pops and bangs as you lift off the accelerator.
While the seven-speed automatic gearbox is excellent, you can choose to take over via the paddles located behind the steering wheel should you wish. We do think it's a shame the A110 isn't offered with a manual gearbox, but few people will find that the automatic gearbox ruins the fun. It's very nearly as good as Porsche's PDK gearbox - and that's a big statement.
Another advantage of weighing the same as a Ford Fiesta is the Alpine's impressive fuel economy. Officially it will return around 44mpg and we've certainly found it easy to see more than 40mpg on a run. This will drop during enthusiastic driving, obviously, but you won't need a heavy wallet to run an Alpine A110.
If you're not someone who likes to wake up early on a Sunday for a spirited drive along a B-road, the Alpine A110 probably isn't the car for you. While it rides surprisingly well and we think we could happily live with one every day, it does have its compromises.
Rear visibility makes tackling a supermarket car park a challenge, for example - we'd recommend paying extra for a reversing camera on the Pure model (it's standard on the Legende).
On the motorway, the A110 feels rather small compared to other traffic and its light weight means it does feel a tad twitchy on a windy day. It's a surprisingly competent long-distance cruiser, though - with acceptable levels of wind and road noise plus cruise control as standard.
|1.8 Turbo DCT||44 mpg||5.0 s||138 g/km|
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