The French are resurrecting iconic brand Alpine (pronounced Ahl-peen…) with a new mid-engined A110 sportscar ready to duel with Porsche’s Cayman
Just over a year after the Alpine Vision concept car was first shown, the reborn French marque has released a production model ready to rival Porsche Caymans later this year from about $62,000.
The new Alpine A110 will first hit roads in Europe by the end of 2017 before heading to Japan and eventually the Middle East from 2018. Built in Dieppe – the historic Renault plant where the original Alpines were made – the new mid-engined car honours its rear-engined ancestors such as the A110 Berlinette with a super lightweight structure and small powerplant.
Combining a bonded and riveted aluminium body and chassis, the new A110 tips scales at just 1,080kg ready to roll according to parent company Renault, which is some 300kg lighter than a 718 Cayman. It’s also quite shorter and lower than the Porsche, with a weight distribution favouring the rear at a 44:56 split.
A 1.8-litre four-cylinder force-fed engine was developed for Alpine’s use by Renault Sport engineers with a specific air intake, turbocharger, exhaust system and electronics. In this A110 tune the four-pot makes 252hp and 320Nm of torque which provides the car with 0-100km/h times in the 4.5-second range. The transmission is a Getrag seven-speed double-clutch unit controlled by shift paddles mounted to the wheel, and before you ask there is no three-pedal option.
Out back the engineers added a functional diffusor in order to keep the smooth line of the car and avoid a drag-inducing rear spoiler, while a flat floor aids aerodynamics, and lowers the car’s drag coefficient to a respectable 0.32 to enable a top speed electronically limited to 250 km/h.
To commemorate the original Berlinette the new A110 features recognisable quad lights up front (full LEDs) and a central bonnet spine so reminiscent of the classic. Inside, apart from a bunch of Renault switchgear, there is also natural-grain leather, exposed structural aluminium, and bits of carbon fibre. Additionally, Sabelt provided the bucket seats (13.1kg each), Otto Fuchs the 18in wheels, and Brembo the all-aluminum brake callipers (the integrated parking brake at the rear saves the A110 2.5kg).
At launch, Alpine is planning a A110 Première Edition as a numbered run limited to 1,955 cars, referring to the year founder Jean Rédélé launched his sporting brand. As a fully-loaded car with all the options the Première Edition will come in a choice of three colours, with matte black finished wheels, French Focal sound system (they’re keeping it patriotic – there’s even a little Tricolor on the C-pillars), and more, before the standard cars come along offering extended personalization options and several different trim levels.
From 2018 when the full range becomes available, all Alpines will be manufactured in that Dieppe factory built by Rédélé in 1969. Since the brand died off in 1995 after the Alpine A610 model ended production there, the factory was used for Renault Sport activities and niche models such as the V6-engined Clio and the hot-hatchbacks, as well as race cars like the Formula Renault 2.0 single seater.
All 1,955 A110 Première Editions are already accounted for with the order book filling up last year merely five days after opening.