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Alpine A110 review: The best sports car you’ve never heard of
THERE are predominantly two schools of thought when it comes to sports cars. The more common opinion is that they should be about going as fast as possible, so they need big power, fat tyres, and the ability to leave everything in the dust down any road or track.
But with the vilifying of speed these days, as well as the prevalence of speed enforcement and "record and report" vigilantism, another belief is taking hold: that sporty driving should be about feeling fast, rather than going fast.
That's what the new A110 from Renault-owned sports carmaker Alpine espouses. It hasn't got a huge amount of power, and it certainly won't rip your face off in a corner, yet is a more multi-dimensional tool for it.
It achieves its performance through fitness, rather than muscle. At 1,094kg, the Alpine A110 is as light as a Honda Jazz, and that allows the A110 to deliver driving thrills even with a modest engine output, soft suspension and non-sticky tyres.
Despite having only 252 horsepower at its call from a 1.8-litre engine, the Alpine will scoot to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds. That's faster than its chief rival, the Porsche 718 Cayman, a more powerful car.
More importantly, it feels exhilarating, hurling itself towards the horizon with instantaneous response and a swear-out-loud urgency. A cacophony of whooshes and crackles from the engine and exhaust behind you adds to the experience, too.
Likewise the handling. With relatively skinny tyres, absolute grip isn't the best, but because of that and the soft suspension, it's totally benign when you do exceed the limits, allowing you to enjoy the sensations of the aluminium chassis working hard beneath you.
It's all fun and flowing rather than fast and furious, and once you cool the pace, is perfectly comfortable and refined to cruise in.
A sticker price of just under S$240,000 without Certificate of Entitlement is a lot of dosh for an unknown brand, but you're also getting a lot of car. To get the same spread of features in a Cayman as you do in the A110 (reverse camera, driving mode selector, bucket seats, LED headlights), you'd need to spend S$40,000 on options, at which point it would set you back S$80,000 more than the Alpine.
As with the driving experience, the A110's price proves that in sports cars, a little can go a very long way.
Alpine A110 Pure
Engine 1,798cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 252hp at 6000rpm
Torque 320Nm at 2000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h 4.5 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Efficiency 6.1 L/100km
Agent Wearnes Automotive
Price S$238,800 without COE