What is that?
The danger was always that Alpine would mess up the second iteration. In its original 2017 form, reviewers felt the modern A110 was an exceptionally good little sports coupe – light, quick, nimble, comfortable and well-resolved on all fronts. Rarely has a brand new product come out of the capsule so perfectly formed.
The car was quickly adopted by the British motoring intelligentsia. Lead engineer Gordon Murray began driving a launch edition to work. Rock star car collector Nick Mason bought one, as did ex-Autocar TV pundit James May.
All were reacting to the car’s light weight, its inspired use of simple and affordable Renault components and its exceptionally pretty bodywork which perfectly referenced the revered A110 of the 1960s without overdoing the pudding.
The problem was that it wasn’t selling. Impressed potential buyers were on the brink – then bought a Porsche 718 Cayman.
After several years of frustration, Alpine has begun a fightback, centered on new big boss Luca de Meo’s “Renaulution” recovery plan. The Renault Sport performance car arm was renamed Alpine and the Renault Formula 1 team ditto. It was announced that Alpine prototypes would take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Discussions of the potential demise of the Dieppe brand abruptly ceased.
The movements have yielded results. European 2020 sales lackluster (if affected by Covid) of 1,527 improved 74% last year to 2,659. In France, expansion reached 117%; here, the figure was 92%. Brand awareness has increased and sightings of A110s on European roads have reached critical mass.
Then a new problem arose: how would Alpine stimulate new sales by improving a car whose style and performance were so admired without ruining it?
A few months ago, his solution emerged: improve the car’s main weak point (the infotainment system) and then smoothly rearrange the models into three logical strands: base (Alpine A110), grand tourer (A110 GT) and resolutely sporty (A110 S). Dress them up with new paint, decor and options – including an aero package for the S that reduces drag and improves high-speed stability – but save everything else.
How does it look?
When right-hand drive versions recently arrived in the UK, we were invited to drive them. The £59,995 S looked like a good choice, with the aero package (£4650), Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires (£640), microfibre cabin trim and steering wheel (£1430) and Flame Orange paint with a black roof (£1650). In total, its price was £71,689.
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This notice was published: 2022-03-29 17:01:25