In a time of oversimplification, and carmakers vying for the market share in SUVs or crossovers, one brand is here to combine heritage and technology in the perfect sportscar package. The Alpine A110 Berlinette might not have been on sale for very long, but its reputation for rallying back in the Sixties and Seventies precedes it. Therefore, creating a brand-new edition, imagined as six or seven generations down the line, is a dangerous game to play - but the risk has proved worth taking.
The A110 has been designed from the ground up by a small team based in France. This allowed them to develop a car that’s completely new — one that’s focused on driving but can stand up as a true style icon. There are some clear transfers of design from the original model, such as the bonnet spine, twin auxiliary lamps and design sculpted into the door. Everything has been dialled up to 11 though, and a sense of modern style complements every retro hint. This has been combined with clever engineering developments to create a car that founder Jean Redele would be proud of.
This is one car that has captured the elements of its heritage without becoming disfigured, or a caricature of its former self. There’s arguably nothing else on the market to share its design cues, and the attention to detail throughout makes it something very special to behold. The four round headlights create a unique light signature, and the Alpine logo brandished across the front completes the vintage look. The design team have managed to retain the key characteristics in profile too, using a huge diffuser under the car to negate the use of a spoiler. The curve along the roofline and subtle flick across the boot distinguish it from any other car on the market.
The A110 is inspiring and invigorating with direct steering, and the weight distribution enables you to power effortlessly around corners.
The A110 features the 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine taken from the Renault Megane. As the car is mid-engined, weight is distributed close to 50:50 with the centre of gravity poised around the driver’s hips. It produces 249bhp and 320Nm of torque, giving it a0-100kph time of merely 4.5 seconds before it carries on to a top speed of 250kph. Although it’s turbocharged, throttle response and power delivery are almost instant, while it also produces an incredible noise that’s unlikely to disappoint even the most distinguished sports car owner. Economy figures are respectable too.
The A110 is inspiring and invigorating with direct steering, and the weight distribution enables you to power effortlessly around corners. With petite dimensions, even navigating the Alpine along the narrowest of roads doesn’t cause any issues. The suspension is the real success story, however, set up to smooth out bumps in the road, rather than the hard sportscar standard you might expect, without losing that sporty driving feel. That makes the A110 a suitable GT car too, if it wasn’t for the lack of luggage space, and very driveable on long journeys. In fact, it’ll be smoother than some family cars.
The interior also retains design cues from the original A110 Berlinette, such as the round dials and curved dashboard. It’s inside that you get a real sense of the weight savings that have gone in — or come out of — this car. Lightweight bucket seats with a microfibre material have been used, hints of carbon fibre and exposed aluminium echo this. While the digital dashboard is simple, it also works well. However, the infotainment system, which is shared with other Renault cars, is simple to navigate but not as responsive as you’d want, with dated graphics that don’t match the car’s style.
Our tester is the Premiere Edition specification, but if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Only 1955 were produced, in honour of the year the brand was created, and they sold out in five days. However, two others will be available from 2018. The first, called Pure, is a more driver-focused edition weighing just 1,080kg. The second, called Legende, is more focused on comfort with plush leather seats.
Alpine has hit the nail on the head with the A110 and no driver will be disappointed. The attention to detail is apparent throughout, and while other manufacturers might claim passion in their design, the love in this tribute to the Alpine brand can be felt in every element.