It’s no secret I love the Alpine A110. It was without a doubt my favourite car I tested from 2019. It’s everything I love about cars in a fun, small, and relatively affordable blue package. The A110 proved to be everything a modern sports car should be. It’s more usable than a Lotus, less expensive than a Porsche, and not as wide as an Alfa Romeo 4C.
I liked it so much I asked for it twice to test. So after spending considerably more time with the A110 than any other press car last year, here are five things I liked about the A110 and five things I didn’t like about it.
Five Things I Liked About The Alpine A110
Handle with care
The Alpine A110 is powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 185kW. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox and will get from 0-100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds. But this car isn’t about 0-100 km/h times or headline grabbing power figures. It’s all about going around corners with the biggest smile on your face. The A110 only weights 1100kg, which is why it can get from 0-100 km/h in a brisk manner. The low weight also means it’ll dart around corners like a housefly. It’s one of the most nimble cars I’ve driven and it’ll make you feel like a driving hero. I’d go as far as to say the handling is right up there with super sports cars such as the Honda NSX and McLaren 570S. It’s honestly that good.
Some hate it, some love it. I’m with the latter. I love the sort-of-retro sort-of-modern design of the A110. It perfectly blends the iconic design of the old A110 with contemporary details. The more I looked at it, and I did look at a lot, the more I noticed all the cool little details. I love cars that keep on surprising you with things like this.
It’s got two boots
It may be a small two-door, two-seater sports car but it’s also quite usable. Sure, it doesn’t have a glovebox. Instead you get a leather-trimmed bin in between the seats but you do also get two boots. They’re not very big but you could put some soft bags in the one at the front and the rear is the perfect size for a helmet. Not a coincidence.
One of the best sounding four-cylinders
The 1.8-litre engine is the same as the one found in the RenaultSport Megane. While most modern four-cylinder turbo cars sound the same, the A110 really opens up as you climb through the revs. It’ll also do all the silly pops and crackles like other four-pots, if you like that sort of thing.
The most fun I’ve had on four wheels
What I love most about the A110 was its character. It’s an extremely likeable car. It’s hard to describe why I love this car so much. The pursuit for lightweight is key. This car wasn’t about chasing lap times or performance figures; first and foremost was keep weight down and fun high. Alpine have succeeded. This is a car you can grab by the scruff of the neck and absolutely abuse on its limits without it killing you. Most sports cars these days are so overpowered, and overweight, if you mess up at their limits you’ll be going at speeds that’ll most likely result in a massive accident. Not with the A110. You don’t even need to drive it at its limits to have fun but if you’re pushing it, it’ll reward you with more. The front end flies into every corner you point it to while the back comes around like a hula hoop. It’s so neutral and balanced you’d have to be driving like a proper maniac to make it misbehave on regular road conditions. Driving this on a twisty mountain road almost becomes an addiction, you just want to keep going. It’s made everything else more expensive, more powerful, and heavier completely and utterly redundant.
Five Things I Didn’t Like About The Alpine A110
Key from a 25 year old Renault
The key was by far the worst part about the A110, and if that’s the worst part about the car then that should speak volumes of how brilliant the rest of it is. It was a card type key which you insert on the passenger side where the glovebox would be, then foot on the brake and push the big red starter button on the centre console. I don’t mind all the faffing about, but what I do mind was the cheap plastic card key. It felt worse than the toys you get from a Happy Meal and had no business being in a $100,000 European sports car.
I honestly couldn’t fathom the infotainment system in the A110. You don’t even get navigation. I was told by the Alpine PR people to just “use my phone” for navigation. I get it; it’s a driver’s car not a navigator’s car but it’d be good to know where I’m driving to on the big screen. It’s essentially a re-skinned version of the system you’d find in a Suzuki.
Lack of Apple CarPlay
I love CarPlay and I love the Alpine. I’d love if both were together but as of now they are not.
No manual option
It’s a shame a car with a driving experience this pure isn’t available with a manual. I can understand why Alpine chose not to offer it with a manual; people just aren’t buying them. The cost to produce a manual gearbox to fit a mid-engine rear-wheel drive car, a format Renault doesn’t have anything similar to, would’ve been too high to make financial sense. But if there ever was a car that desperately needed a gear stick and a third pedal, it was this. That said, not once did I feel like I was missing a manual gearbox while driving the A110. Having a dual-clutch only didn’t take away from the overall experience. In short, it’s still fun with two pedals.
That’s pretty much it. It’s perfect.
Seriously, the A110 is the perfect modern sports car. It’s not overpowered, the handling and feel is second to none, and most importantly of all it’s fun. A sports car should have character, a personality you as the driver can blend with. This has plenty of personality and some. It was the best and most memorable car I drove in 2019 and I’m itching to get behind the wheel of one again. Of all the cars I’ve had the privilege of driving, the A110 is the one that sticks with me the most. It’s the car I daydream about all the time. Everyone needs to drive an A110 at some point in their lives. It’s bloody brilliant.