Alpine A110 - Driven

Iíve had the good fortune recently to have a couple of days of drives of the latest sports car to reach Australia Ė the first new Alpine A110 in WA. Luckily Richard Hewes at Melville Renault had the foresight to order one for himself and heís generously allowed me behind the wheel. What an experience...

Those of you who know me will be aware Iíve driven all kinds of cars on road and circuit and the Alpine makes an interesting comparison with the likes of Lotus Elise and Porsche Cayman, both of which Iíve drive extensively. 

The French carís designers had a clean sheet to start with in creating their new sports car - and a long gestation time. And the result shows theyíve made the best of this, capturing the look of the classic Alpine plus its greatest traits Ė light weight, exceptional handling and a 10/10 on the fun factor scale.

The new A110 includes all the wizardry expected of new cars in this era Ė safety gear, high-tech electronics for the controls and mechanicals yet it retains the seat of the pants fun that is so hard to find these days.

The 185kW 1.8-litre turbo four, mid-mounted is a proven Renault Sport unit and when pushing along the lightweight (1080kg) Alpine it gives a real shove in the back Ė the factory quotes 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds. But that alone is not what the essence of the Alpine is. It's a beautifully balanced car. The A110 has the best steering and turn-in of any of the 1200+ cars Iíve ever driven Ė bar none. Even at very low speeds, this steering accuracy is a joy. And this points to how well the Alpine handles as the speeds get higher.

The sounds the car makes in Sport mode are real aural pleasure! So much great engineering to please enthusiasts has gone into this car.

If you just want to cruise around, without the car in Sport or Track mode, the Alpine takes it all in its stride, the 7-speed gearchanges doing their job behind the scenes without any chugging, and the carís remarkably compliant ride making the Alpine an easy car to drive. Yes, you could cruise around town all day unflustered, or drive it to Albany without hesitation. Nobody in a sane state of mind could accuse an Elise of that. While the Alpine offers proper sports car performance thereís none of the harshness so many other cars have.

The interior is exceptional too, with tremendous attention to detail being a hallmark of this car. It's not at all claustrophobic. Internal storage space is at a premium, but thatís about the only fault I can find in the Alpine. Fit and finish is very good. Iíve been to the factory at Dieppe and seen the care and attention the workers show in hand-building cars there.

If youíve had some Porsches or Lotuses, you genuinely owe it to yourself to consider the Alpine. Youíll be impressed.

Copyright Paul Blank -