Alpine A110 (2018) Review

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Alpine A110 (2018) At A Glance

4/5
Honest John Overall Rating
The Alpine A110 is a hugely competent, engaging and entertaining proposition. Few, if any, modern cars are so detailed in their feel, the finesse in how they drive.

+Great fun to drive, fine chassis balance and plenty of performance for the road, light and agile, hugely engaging and rich in feel for the driver.

-Interior materials sub-par on a car with a near £50,000 price tag, for a car that majors on analogue driving appeal the lack of availability of a manual transmission galls.

You might have thought there was some sort of automotive second coming back in 2017, as the car world gushed about the reprise of French sports car firm Alpine with a new A110. To the uninformed this, usually blue, admittedly pretty, retro-styled coupe was just another sports car, to enthusiasts it was embraced as a revival of the concept of a simple, puristic driver’s car. A paradigm shift in the sports car market? Perhaps, but however brilliant it might be, it’s a car that needs one hell of a push from its parent company Renault if it’s ever going to rival cars like the Audi TT, Toyota Supra, BMW Z4 and, most significantly, the Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster range for sales.  

Looking for a Alpine A110 (2018 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

Renault revived the sporting Alpine brand, dusting off a model badge last tacked to the back of a car in 1977. It then had its designers create a modern interpretation of the car that wore it, trawled its history books for evocative, bygone motorsport successes – a win in the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally and overall title win in the ’73 world rally championship, no less – and set about building a new sports car.

The automotive world, or at least the enthusiast portion of it, was in rapture. With its emphasis on low mass, fine balance and purity of response, the Alpine A110 is the lightweight foil to its bloated Claymore sports car contemporaries. 

The result is, and remains, impressive, the lightest A110 is just 1098kg, that an absolute featherweight among its sports car rivals, while its predecessor’s history gives the new A110 an admirable back story. Thing is, back in ‘71 a win at the Monte Carlo Rally genuinely was front page news, today the only way an Alpine would make the front pages – or, these days, go viral - is if a Kardashian crashed one in Casino Square.

All of that makes the A110 a very tough sell, the sports car market is arguably more about being seen and brand, than real purist driver thrills these days – you just need to look at Lotus sales figures to appreciate that. 

It’s a brave, committed buyer who picks a this French unknown over a Porsche, or even a Lotus, then, but that rather closed, knowledgeable shop is arguably part of the Alpine A110’s allure to its core buyers.

Indeed, even the name needs explaining, it pronounced ‘Alpeen’, as opposed to how you might describe the scent of a toilet freshener, and owners will likely enjoy telling you exactly how to say it.  

The brochure for the A110 extols things like compactness, weight distribution and power to weight ratios, as well as its predecessor’s rallying exploits and successes, but for all but a handful of enthusiasts out there that’s pretty much irrelevant, particularly if you’re used to current sports cars.

A car you might graduate up to from a focussed hot hatch, or hugely compromised Caterham, from then, rather than sell your Porsche or Audi TT for. All of which makes that market position, and pricing a tricky sell, however brilliant it might prove on your favourite road. 

And it is brilliant, the A110’s balance is extraordinary, the chassis people at Alpine making it supple and controlled, which makes it fine on the choppy tarmac that passes for roads in the UK.

The engine might be modest in its output, but with so little mass to shift it’s quick enough to be fun, but not so rapid that you’ve always one eye on the speedometer while puckering the seat material beneath you in fear of your licence.

As drivers we all love it, but, and it’s a big but, for all the fun it delivers it has to be compromised to do so, which is detrimental to its overall appeal for those but all the most committed card-carrying driving enthusiasts. 

Alpine added an S model a couple of years after the standard A110’s 2017 debut, it gaining some power, more grip and stiffer, more focussed suspension. Its reception has been mixed, as in doing what all other sports car firms do, and have been doing for years, Alpine has somewhat diluted the A110’s raison d’etre with its range-topping model. 

What does a Alpine A110 (2018) cost?