The A110 has evolved in many ways, but our first few weeks with this updated example show that for all the extra premium feel, the driving experience remains at the heart of the car. And that suits us just fine.
- Mileage: 1,157
- Economy: 34.9mpg
What does the Alpine brand stand for, do you think, and how does it square up beside the more established sports car makers such as Porsche and Lotus? Is it France’s alternative to those brands, or is Alpine even more left-field than that? Most of all, is it any good at making sports cars?
All of these questions and more will be answered during the next six months with our shiny new Thunder Grey Alpine A110 GT, but what I can tell you here and now is that bystanders notice this car. And most of them tend to like what they see.
People are intrigued by the A110 GT. They rate its diminutive proportions and its unusually distinctive nose and headlights. They also like our car’s number plate. Some aren’t entirely sure whether it’s from 2022 or 1972, true, but those who follow Formula One tend to know the brand, even if they don’t automatically associate this car with the one that Fernando Alonso races.
Car group tests
Yet the attention the A110 receives is always positive, tinged, just occasionally perhaps, with a slight sense of bewilderment from some people who have simply “never seen one of these before”.
Me? After just over 1,000 miles of driving it on both road and track, and having lived with it for a good few weeks rather than just days, I’m well and truly hooked. I was already a fan of the A110 GT, having done plenty of miles in the pre-updated model, but this revised version – with 296bhp from its 1.8-litre, four cylinder turbo engine and tweaked suspension – is even better.
It’s also a lot more practical to live with and drive every day than I was expecting, and there are several reasons why. For starters, the boots (there are two – one in the nose, another in the tail) are both small, yes, but they can each ingest an awful lot more stuff than you first assume, so long as you’re prepared to think about how you use them. Hard suitcases are a definite no-no, but soft bags, crash helmets, camera bags and even a good few bags of shopping can all be squeezed into the French machine.
Then there’s a nice big additional storage case inside the cabin itself between the seats, which can swallow a lot more stuff than I anticipated. It’s a £468 option, true, but it’s well worth the money, I reckon.
The point is, I was dreading the potential impracticalities of running an A110 GT every day, but in truth, it’s much more usable than I feared it might be. It also feels a lot better built than I expected, with an interior that has a genuine premium air to it in most respects, even if there are some switches that will be familiar to Renault drivers.
Does it feel like a £60k car? Overall, yes, I think it does. I’ve even bought a cheapo aftermarket car cover for it so that my local seagulls don’t ruin its lovely paintwork. The fact that it weighs just 1,119kg and utilises some parts from lesser cars within Renault’s line-up is always going to make it seem less premium than a Porsche.
But this shortage of weight and general heft are also big plus points. They provide it with a sense of agility that no other rival can replicate, at any price – not those from Porsche, Lotus or even Ferrari, all of which weigh more, and most of which come with considerably higher price tags.
Because in the end, it’s not the surprising practicality or even the way it looks that defines the Alpine A110 GT. It’s the way it drives and it drives like no other sports car on sale. It’s very quick but not unsociably so. It handles beautifully but also rides, steers and stops as if touched by genius. And it’s comfortable – boy, is it comfortable, to a point where I do relish the prospect of covering long distances in it.
Although to be fair every millimetre of every journey is an event to savour in our A110 GT. That’s how smitten by it I am, so far.
|Model:||Alpine A110 GT|
|On fleet since:||August 2022|
|Price new:||£59,355 (£62,867 as tested)|
|Engine:||1.8-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 296bhp|
|Options:||Thunder Grey paint (£780), Focal premium audio (£552), 18-inch Serac Wheels (£372), Mirror pack (£468), Storage pack (£468), Alpine telematics (£264), Alpine logos on fuel cap and side bumper (£110), Alpine logo in steering wheel (£78)|
|Insurance:||Group: 46 Quote: £945|
|Any problems?||None so far|
*Insurance quote for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points