Home / Auto / Alpine A110 review – The sports car Porsche should be worried about

Alpine A110 review – The sports car Porsche should be worried about

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 (Image: ALPINE)

Well not this car exactly, but its predecessor, the original Renault Alpine A110 from the 1960s famed for its rallying success, which has always been one of my dream cars. Bad timing and sheer physics (it’s tiny) has meant I’ve never got round to it, so this new version is the next best thing.

Renault isn’t pulling any punches with this new A110. It’s unashamedly aiming at the likes of the Porsche Cayman which is nobody’s idea of an easy target.

While Renault might not quite have the same level of badge kudos as the Porsche, this new Alpine certainly has the looks. It takes more than a few styling hints from the original and it’s also very small, even compared with modern sports cars.

There’s also the issue of the A110’s engine too. Yes, times have moved on and we’re all now used to down-sized powerplants, but even so a 1.8-litre turbo-petrol does seem to be a little short-changed for a sports car, even with 248bhp.

The proof of the pudding however comes in the Alpine’s size and its extremely low weight – just 1.1 tonnes. The result is that it can get from 0 to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds and onto a 155mph top speed along with 138g/km emissions and 46mpg average fuel economy.

To put that into perspective, to achieve the same level of performance the Porsche Cayman S has a 2.5-litre engine with 350bhp, much higher emissions and a not-inconsiderable 47 stone more weight – the equivalent of three rugby players sitting in the passenger seat.

Lotus founder Colin Chapman famously boasted about ‘adding lightness’ to his cars to achieve better performance and this Alpine is the perfect example of that virtuous circle.

Put simply, the more weight you can remove from a car, then the less power you need to achieve an equal performance level plus you can fit smaller brakes, in themselves lighter than usual and so it goes on.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 (Image: ALPINE)

The absence of those three rugby players are immediately obvious when you climb into the Alpine. It’s not quite to the same spartan level as a Lotus Elise, but it isn’t far off.

Practicality-wise, there’s a tiny slot for your mobile phone and the ignition key card plus a small shelf underneath, which is awkward to access. There’s no cupholders, no door pockets and no glovebox, so you need to pack wisely. Our car also had sporty fixed bucket seats to further save weight.

Overall, the build quality and materials are good, but there are still some elements such as the stereo volume controls and the old style key card (rather than its latest version for some reason), which are obviously from the old-generation Renault parts bin.

These thoughts don’t disappear altogether when you press the starter button and set off, but they certainly start to dissipate. The 1.8-litre engine fires up with little drama and things remain that way at suburban speeds.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 (Image: ALPINE)

Turn onto twistier and faster roads though and the Alpine’s true nature begins to appear.

Flick down a couple of gears via the fixed gearchange paddles (which we’d prefer if they were mounted on the steering wheel itself) and flex your right foot in anger and the Alpine’s responses are immediate with the car leaping up the road.

Suddenly the car feels alive in your hands, with the steering sensitive to every input and a feeling of being totally at one with the car. Even more, that 1.8-litre engine turns out to be an absolute screamer at higher revs, proving positively addictive to push the needle higher up the dial. It’s unquestionably at its best, when pushed hard.

The Sport mode, activated via a button on the steering wheel itself, just heightens all of this further still. What’s obvious is that on the right road, the A110 is an utter joy to drive and to drive quickly.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 (Image: ALPINE)

You might think that you need to be Lewis Hamilton to notice that lack of weight we mentioned earlier, but the reality is that it’s so significant that the car shouts that message to the driver with every element of its driving experience – it’s no mistake that it’s a feeling not entirely unlike that found in the current Mazda MX5 that has a similar lightweight ethos.

Here, you’re not simply just a driver steering the car in the direction you want it to go no matter how fast you’re going, as you might do in rivals.

Instead, it almost becomes a symbiotic relationship as the car is so responsive and intuitive to your thought processes, particularly when pressing on. Yes, it has a tendency to follow the camber of the road and the ride is on the sportier side of firm, but we’re willing to forgive that.

All that said, it’s not perfect though. It would be polite to say that the Alpine’s rearward vision is like looking through a letterbox, it’s actually far worse than that.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 (Image: ALPINE)

The two boots, front and rear are laughably small and when you’re not in the mood for driving hard, it certainly won’t be as relaxing to drive on a daily basis as a Boxster or Cayman.

Then again, you’re unlikely to fall in love with either of those two like you will this Alpine.

The £51,805 price tag isn’t the easiest to stomach either, but then all of the initial Premiere Edition models sold out and it’s easy to see why potential Cayman buyers might want something a little different, especially for weekends.

The hero worship might be able to start all over again.

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 (Image: ALPINE)

Logbook Lowdown

Model: Alpine A110

Price: £51,805

Engine: Turbo-petrol – 1.8-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds, 155mph top speed

Average fuel economy: 46mpg

CO2 emissions: 138g/km

Rivals: Audi TT, BMW Z4, Porsche Cayman

Rating: 9/10

Source link

About admin

Check Also

Electric car myths busted – Things you’ve been getting wrong about EVs

Motorists are making a number of mistakes about electric cars (Image: GETTY) Electric cars are ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *