This is how the Alpine A110 is really fun

The numbers are remarkable at first glance: 74 percent more sales in 2021. And yet Alpine is far from where mother Renault would like it to be. The sporting flagship of the French has been weakening since the new start in 2017.

Last year, 2,659 A110s were sold worldwide. This compares to around 20,500 Cayman (and Boxster) sold in the same year. It may be because the Alpine brand does not enjoy the expected reputation outside of France – 60 percent of the A110 remain in the country. The commitment in Formula 1 or in long-distance seems to be fruitful, but the expectations are much higher.

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The legendary Alpine era was in the 1960s and 1970s. The original fans and potential buyers already have retirement age in mind. And the youngsters will think twice before spending 60,000 euros and more for an Alpine that has neither the exotic status of a Lotus nor the sporty inviolability of a Porsche.
Alpine A110 S

Nice and clear: no frills, functional cockpit. What looks like Alcantara is a microfiber fabric, in the package for S (1650 euros) and GT (2430 euros).

With these questions in mind, we take a look at the revised Alpine. With the triumvirate of the basic version A110, the long-distance-focused A110 GT and the A110 S with an optional aero package and a top speed of 275 km/h, you want to take off and hope to finally snag a few points from arch-rival Porsche.

A110 GT: very intuitively accessible driving character

We start with the GT version in the hinterland of the Paul Ricard circuit near Marseille, a cornering Eldorado with little traffic, after we have finished the 300 hp strengthen four-cylinder woke up with what was probably the biggest red start button of all time.

It takes less than 30 curves, which you drive through with increasing pleasure with the smooth-running, very precise steering and full utilization of the revving engine, then the first entry in the notebook is: 1100 kilos!!!!! – with five exclamation marks.

Even if the engine were a little less snappy and elastic (340 Nm between 2400 and 6000 rpm): the chassis and the weight distribution alone (56 percent at the rear) give the lightweight an unmistakable, very intuitively accessible driving character.

The points of criticism are marginal: The heavy exhaust boom (starting in sport mode) when shifting down is annoying on a narrow country road, since with the well-stepped 7-speed DCT you have to shift down several times before each curve.

Alpine A110 S

Hearty sound: The four-cylinder sounds great, the banging can get on your nerves. At launch, tricks are used, a cylinder is deactivated – for the good sound.

And for a GT, the non-adjustable spring-damper combination should be a bit comfy. The astonishing handiness and the always noticeable low weight are quickly taken to heart, as is the nice animation of the monitor when the virtual round instruments seem to fold over when switching from “Sport” to “Normal”.

Anyone who wants to drive 275 km/h in the A110 S has to invest an additional 5,360 euros. This is how much the aero package of the sportiest A110 costs, which is waiting in the pit lane of the Circuit Paul Ricard equipped with excellent Sabelt racing shells with a microfiber leather surface (720 euros) and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 (730 euros).

Fatigue-free braking in the Alpine A110 S

The track is wet in places, for example in front of the really fast “Signes” courage corner, pylons help with orientation during the three laps of short stints. The perfect ergonomics testify to the attention to detail, as does the aluminum footrest for the front passenger, which is standard in the S. You could now try the new infotainment and set the page that indicates steering angles or lap times.

You just won’t look, because with the A110 S you quickly get into an area where you no longer want to record any additional information, because driving in itself is as demanding as it is fulfilling.

On the race track, too, it is of course the weight that dominates all driving impressions. It starts with the fatigue-free brakes, the potential of which only becomes apparent after a few laps, when the braking points continue to move towards the apex.

Alpine A110 S

Alloy wheels GT Race (730 euros), Michelin PSCup2 (730 euros), sports brakes with 320 mm discs (S series).

The ABS hardly has to adjust on the dry spots. In general, it is a pleasure to feel how stable the A110 S reacts to any change in the driving condition. The feeling for the front axle connects driver and machine very quickly, the rear is very stable, body roll is almost imperceptible.

In track mode, the ESP also allows oversteer, which can be corrected here in a playful manner. Of course you could also turn it off.

After a few faster laps, it’s back to the country road, where the tense focus on the route quickly gives way to a certain nonchalance, the interplay of braking, turning in and accelerating almost imperceptibly leads to a playful flow. Few sports cars can do it that fast. Hopefully Alpine will finally make it economically, on the second try. It would be a pity.

Specifications and price: Alpine A110 S

Engine: R4, turbo, center rear across
Displacement: 1798cc
Perfomance: 221kW (300 hp) at 6300 rpm
Max. Torque: 340 Nm at 2400-6000 rpm
Drive: Rear wheel/7-speed dual clutch
L/W/H: 4181/1798/1252mm
curb weight: 1119 kg (DIN)
trunk: 190L
0-100km/h: 4.2s
Top: 260km/h
Consumption: 6.8l S
Exhaust gas CO₂: 153g/km
Price: from 70,850 euros

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