Alpine A110 2018 review

Alpine A110

The Alpine A110 is back. We witness the rebirth of the French sports car maker and drive the wonderful A110, one of the best driver’s cars in years

Spoiler alert: the Alpine A110 is the best and most exciting car I’ve driven in ages. It is all kind of good things, this compact marvel, as refreshing and cheering to drive as a nearly-great car which has had its unfulfilled wishes granted without compromise.It’s as joyful as finding a Toyota GT86 has been given the power it always wanted, or the latest Mazda MX-5 with seats in the right place and greater roll control. It is like an Ariel Nomad without hypothermia, a Smart Roadster Coupe with a terrific gearbox, a Lotus Exige with lighter steering, a Porsche 964 RS with driveline refinement or an original Honda NSX with repairable panels. Imagine those ‘I love that car but…’ moments, only with the qualifier removed. That’s how well Alpine has absolutely nailed this car.Am I overegging it? I could be, but hope not. The new Alpine A110 is quite something, even of itself, but it could be the start of something much, much bigger again, too. What you’re seeing is the rebirth of a classic French brand, established in 1955 but which met its end under Renault ownership in 1995, presumed gone forever. But now Renault has brought it back, first with this small two-seat coupe; but its bosses name-check Mini when they’re talking about its future. Not that, beyond this car, which will presumably involve some faster and less-roofy variants, they’re much inclined to talk too about that. “We have decided to be undecided,” Michael van der Sande, Alpine’s MD, says, with the air of mystery of a man who has decided precisely. You suspect, then, this is the start of something; a premium brand from the Renault-Nissan alliance that, unlike Infiniti, might actually gain traction in Europe.How could it not be something else? Surely it is, after all, too expensive to justify otherwise? The Alpeen-a-one-ten isn’t a platform-sharing special. It has a brand-new all-aluminium architecture, will be sold through specialist Alpine dealerships, and needs the overhaul and refurbishment of a good portion of Renault’s Dieppe factory, in Alpine’s home city, where Renaultsport Clios are still made and where the Renault Spyder and the Mk2 Clio V6 were produced. It’s an area which still thinks so wistfully about Alpines that local government has put money into completing the factory. There are suppliers here too, after all; it’s not just good for nostalgia, it’s good for business.You might remember, too, that Caterham was involved in this for a while – from the project’s announcment in 2012 until Caterham pulled out with little explanation in 2014. The Alpine and Caterham derivatives of this architecture were to have the same glass area but relatively different bodies, but the Alpine has matured since Caterham upped and left. Caterham’s variant would have been even emptier inside and lighter still, but even so the Alpine A110 tips the scales at just 1080kg, even with all of its fluids aboard. This Premiere Edition specification, which comprises the first 1955 cars built, and which will take the first eight months of next year to build, only weighs 1103kg. I wonder how annoyed they are about the last 4kg.But still, 1100kg is a heck of an achievement, today. “We will have the lightest, most agile car in whatever class we’re in,” says van der Sande. Whatever class you’re in, eh? Hmm. Anyway steel wouldn’t have been light enough for this class, and you can’t make money on carbonfibre at this price point. A price point of around £50,000, it should be noted. This car is Porsche 718 Cayman money.

Source: Autocar Online

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