Yet another car has come out that we could desperately use here in the states. Unfortunately for us that won’t be a reality though, so we will be stuck drooling over the new Alpine A110 from across the pond.
The name Alpine is a foreign concept here in the US, but in Europe it was at near legendary status. The A110 in particular was a model run from 1961 until the late 70’s. It successfully captured the hearts of many by becoming one of the more iconic rally cars of that time period. From there Alpine went on to produce a handful of other models, but unfortunately none of those models were able to catch on like the famed 110. This left Renault no choice but to close the doors on Alpine in 1995. Thankfully enough time has passed and Renault has been able to lick their wounds, allowing them to once again resurrect the Alpine name, bringing the A110 moniker back with it.
Following right where the A110 left off many moons ago Alpine has once again created a gorgeous looking mid-engined two-seater. The 2017 A110 is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline 4 that was built by Renault/Nissan. With a little massaging from Alpine the tiny power plant now produces 250hp and 236lb-ft of torque. That might not sound like much, but with a curb weight of only 2,381lbs the A110 is promising to scoot along with little hesitation. To help squeeze as much performance out of the A110 as possible the only transmission option that is available is a 7-speed dual clutch.
Now that is just a lot of jibberish and numbers. There is so much more to the new A110 that it becomes almost intangible. Styling wise the A110 is on another level, featuring the best of the old 110 while mixing in some new cues to make it a gorgeous little car. And then on top of that is its performance, and boy does it deliver in that avenue. The engineers of the A110 said they wanted to produce a car that was equally as fun to drive while on the street as on the track. That means when you are behind the wheel of an A110 you will have the same giant grin going 40mph as you will going 110mph. From the looks of it, they managed to get that engaging feeling and then some.
This magic combination comes down to the body and suspension. The body is made from lightweight aluminum, saving precious pounds to get that trip curb weight. When paired to the state of the art double wishbone suspension at all four corners you are left with a package that excels in the corners, regardless of what speed you are at. The A110’s chief engineer, David Twohig explains it best by saying, “The setup we have here is rare on a car at this level, but it gives us tremendous linearity in the camber angle, and means that the tires’ contact patch on the road is perfect. Because you don’t have to fight the roll, you don’t have to fit stiff springs. At no point in the suspension stroke does the camber angle suddenly do something bizarre. In layman’s terms, it’s predictable, progressive, friendly.”
And that’s just it. With a platform as light as this you no longer have the need for excessive spring rates, making it near perfect in every avenue. Brilliant. The exterior styling was a labor of love, trying to nail what made the original so great without looking like a copy cat. While I believe they did a great job in making a great looking successor to the original I can’t help but feel that it looks a little, cartoonish. It seems the 2017 A110 is less aggressive in styling than its predecessor, going the way of the Mazda Miata. What I’m rambling about is for lack of a better phrase the A110 looks a little feminine, which isn’t a horrid thing, it’s just bound to get you snickered at by your guy friends.
The interior is beautifully done, easily making up for the lack of aggression from the exterior. While simple in design the interior has all the features you could possible need in a car like this. Directly in front of the driver is a gorgeous flat bottom steering wheel followed by two massive gauges to inform you of the important actions taking place. These gauges are also customizable with a plethora of things you can manipulate to your taste, even including an F1 style shift indicator. From there the dash houses a massive information screen for all your entertainment and navigation needs. Finally the center console resembles that of a Ferrari with its sport buttons and window switches all laid out nicely.
The A110 is set to go head to head with the class of new breed sports cars like the 718 Cayman from Porsche, the Audi TT RS and the Alfa Romeo 4C. It’s too early to say how it will fair but as of right now the Alpine A110 is looking to be a real contender in a class already stacked with giants.