Surrey’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

Perfect tour de force

The new Alpine A110S joins the A110 Pure and A110 Légende models in Alpine’s lightweight, elegant sports coupé line up. True to Alpine’s heritage, these cars place agility and driving pleasure front, centre and just about everywhere else. Euan Johns looks at the A110S – a perfect addition to the French motoring legend’s stable.
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After 40 years absence the brief had been a tough one: to resurrect a long-missed classic conceived in the late fifties, born in the early sixties and put out to pasture 40 years later. In 2017 coming in at a fairly lightweight 1,100 kg, the Alpine A110 Première actually did everything it said on the tin. It aimed to hold its own against the Porsche 718 Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C, and it did. At first this ‘S’ newcomer begs the question, how do you improve on perfection?

Well, the driving experience has got a little sportier with some fine adjustments such as wider tyres and stiffer springs. The grip is better for slamming into corners and it changes direction more quickly. In summary, the core basics are the same as the A110, but carried out with more precision and quite a bit more zest.
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History of Alpine

Alpine owes its existence to Jean Rédélé, a lifelong car enthusiast and a gifted driver and mechanic. He studied in Paris before establishing a car dealership in Dieppe, selling Renaults. A keen and competitive rally driver, Rédélé entered his Renault 4CV in various motorsport events throughout the early fifties, upgrading his car each year.

Rédélé achieved a series of class wins in famous motorsport events such as the Mille Miglia and the Critérium des Alpes rally. Having identified a gap in the market, Rédélé established his sports car company in 1955, recognising that it wasn’t outright power or brute force that made a car quick on a twisty rally stage, but lightweight, compact dimensions and agility. His first car was the Alpine A106 based on the Renault 4CV chassis. In 1958 his second car, the A108, arrived with a chassis all of its own, but it wasn’t until the A110 Berlinette debuted in 1962 that Rédélé’s fledgling company really began to progress. By now, Alpine cars were being sold and serviced by Renault dealerships.

By the early seventies, Alpine was a major force in top-flight rally competition, and in 1971 won the world famous Rallye Monte Carlo for the first time, then again in 1973. The company went on to win the World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ title later that year. Rédélé built a dedicated factory in Dieppe in 1969 and two years later Alpine was acquired by Groupe Renault.

Alpine achieved its most famous motorsport triumph in 1978: overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The factory continued to release new and innovative road cars throughout the seventies and eighties, including the A310 V6 and the GTA.

Alpine production would eventually cease in 1995. More than 30,000 Alpine road cars had been built across 40 years.
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As the revived Mini echoes the sixties, the A110 series does the same. The A110S is still a fantastic-to-look-at car, whilst retaining a certain charm with that hint of retro as all Alpine’s models do. The black badging and redesigned wheels add a touch more meanness to its looks. This car drives like a dream, the steering is light and responsive, the turning circle small, and with its compact proportions, it can go where others may fear to. The engine manages a Porsche Cayman beating 0–62mph in 4.4 seconds and matches its other rivals very well indeed.

Designed and manufactured in Dieppe, the mid-engined, two-seater coupé has an aluminium platform that keeps weight to a minimum. A true Alpine, the A110S shares its lightweight layout with other models in the range. A number of key changes deliver enhanced performance through precision and high-speed stability, with certainly no loss in everyday useability.

The turbocharged 1.8-litre engine produces 292hp, an increase of 40hp over the standard car. There’s also the inclusion of the active sports exhaust that delivers a more emotive engine sound depending on the driver’s mood and mode selection.

Alpine key dates

1955 Creation of Société des Automobiles Alpine.
Launch of the A106
1962 Launch of the A110
1971 First victory at the Monte Carlo Rally
1973 Alpine wins World Rally Championship for manufacturers. Acquired by Groupe Renault
1976 Launch of A310 V6
1978 Alpine wins 24 Hours of Le Mans
1985 Launch of GTA
1991 Launch of A610
1995 Alpine production discontinued
2012 Announcement of an Alpine car project
2015 Presentation of Alpine Célébration Concept race car at 24 Hours of Le Mans
2016 Alpine relaunch announced and presentation of Alpine Vision show car
2017 A110 Première Edition
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With the A110, Alpine rekindled its rich heritage of building agile, lightweight sports cars totally in their element on winding mountain roads. The company is well known for competing at the highest level of international motorsport (see History of Alpine box, right). It’s in that same spirit that Alpine today competes in international endurance racing: its title-winning FIA LMP2 World Endurance Championship programme showcases the brand’s ambition and further commitment to motorsport.

The price tag for the basic A110S comes in at around £56,000. It’s an exciting car, one of the best, and feels like a compact McLaren. This particular Alpine will blaze a trail that others will try to follow and that we’ll still be talking about in another 50 years. I don’t remember the originals my Dad’s generation would have known and admired, but this one’s just such a stunning addition to the line.

I hadn’t thought it possible to improve on perfection, but I was wrong, I admit it. The magic hasn’t been blurred at all, it’s just come into sharper focus. The legend well and truly lives on.

essence info
From the very inception of the Alpine project it has been our intention to offer different versions of the A110 with handling and performance characteristics of their own.
Sébastien Erphelin, managing director, Alpine