Alpine, rediscover your driving joie de vivre

Alpine is a brand steeped in history.

From the Monte Carlo rally winning A110 of the 70s to the 911 rivalling GTA of the 80s and 90s, Alpine were famed for making cars that were serious bits of kit. Then, on the 7th of April 1995, the last Alpine rolled off the production line in Dieppe. 

The end of the historic brand, or so we thought.

Watch my review of the Alpine A110 Legend

In 2009 Renault (Alpines parent company) announced the return of Alpine and thus began the journey back to the tarmac for one of Frances best loved car marques.

In 2017 the born again A110 was showcased to the world and the plucky little two seater speed demon started to make the headlines.

What are the stats?

The A110 is all about being super light and agile. So that means that Alpine did everything possible to save weight. The gear box has been stripped down, the body is made of aluminium even the main braking system and the handbrake have been integrated with each other to save weight, yea, apparently that is a thing.

All that means this entire car only weighs 1100kg. I was officially pretty much the heaviest part of the car when I was sat in it!

Combine this addiction to weight saving with the 1.8 litre turbo charged engine positioned in the middle of the car and the A110 will get you to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. 

DSC07491.JPG

How does it feel and perform on the road?

The little A110 finds itself in a very competitive field. 

Sandwiched in-between the Audi TT and the Cayman, performance or price would have to be very appealing in order to break the duopoly that the German marques currently enjoy.

With the price starting at around the £52k mark, driving performance is where it is going to pip its rivals to the line.

Those of you who have read or watched any of my reviews before will know that I don't put a lot of kudos on driving stats when comparing cars. I just don't think that how fast you will get to 60mph or the torque that is on offer is particularly relevant when you take a car out on the public road. I haven't changed my approach.

Sure the Alpines rivals are better established, offer more for the money in terms of brand attraction and on paper performance but the A110, in my opinion, offers what the other don't. 

Motoring spirit.

If you take the actual driving feel out of the equation for a moment, this thing turns heads. I had the pleasure of the Alpine over four days and people regularly stopped me to ask what it was and generally admire what is a beautiful looking contraption. 

Say what you like about how it compares to the Audi and Porsche but you can't deny it looks like it belongs on the riviera looking chique. 

The driving performance and characteristics match how it looks. It is undeniably hugely quick, particularly in that real world performance band of 25 mph to 50 mph. What helps with the feeling like you've been strapped to a lightning bolt is the fact it is so low to the ground AND weighs little more than a feather on a fad diet. 

It squirrels a bit when under load and the back did get a bit jumpy but I think this is down to our less than brilliant roads in the UK and the traction control being turned on. I have a feeling it may behave a little better on the track when the rules of the road don't apply.

Braking performance was solid and general comfort was good. The reality is that you can't drive like a fool all the time and when you drive sensibly, the A110 is still good fun and the cabin is a nice place to be. You certainly can't mistake this for being anything other than French as the Tricolore is absolutely everywhere, including the digital dash.

Would I buy one?

That is a tough question to answer. 

The Alpine A110 really is amongst some seriously stiff competition. Overall Cabin and build quality is better in the Audi TT and Cayman but they have had years and years to refine their proposition.

I'm a romantic type of driver, I own an Alfa for gods sake, and that means that yes, if I was in the market for a two seater, mid engined fun mobile I would go for the Alpine. Simply because it offers something different and is packed with joie de vivre.

——

A huge Merci to the team at Alpine Centre West London for lending us this car and letting us explore such a fantastic wee thing.