Alpine A110 half term report.

Alpine A110 half term report.

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bcr5784

Original Poster:

3,817 posts

90 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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Alpine A110 mid term review.


I have posted my initial thoughts on the car before, and plenty of odd comments since. – but I thought it might be useful to expand on them now I have done over a 1000 miles. I’ll include other common impressions and try to address some concerns raised. As my previous car was a Cayman 981S and I have driven a 718 I’ll comment on the comparison where I feel it’s helpful.

I could give chapter and verse on all aspects of the car – but that has been done in many reviews. Since, for the most part, I concur with the consensus of independent reviews I will start with a summary of that consensus and highlight areas where I disagree – or where issues are simply not addressed.

What the testers say.



The external appearance is well liked, but the interior is not up to the standards of the Cayman, oddment space is negligible and boot space lacking too. The Renault switchgear, in particular, comes in for some criticism, as does the infotainment system.
The chassis is the car’s outstanding feature, engaging and with great agility and a supple ride. The car feels very compact. There is more roll than is the norm, but it is generally well controlled on the road. The setup is (rightly) regarded as more biased to the road than the track. Damping could be better controlled occasionally. It’s great fun – even at modest speeds
The engine is free-revving and characterful, with pops and crackles which are generally well liked. Economy is outstanding. The gearbox isn’t up to the standard of the Porsche PDK box, but is decently slick and smooth and not a cause for complaint.
It’s mighty pricey.

My thoughts



Chassis



My first and abiding impression is that the low-speed ride is actually quite firm – certainly not as comfortable as my 981 on PASM with 19” wheels. It’s better than the Cayman on passive suspension - especially the 718 which is stiffer than the 981. From 50mph or so it is noticeably better and the greater travel in the suspension means it generally handles wavy roads better – but some bumpy surfaces do catch it out slightly.

Even after all the hype the agility still surprises – it may be 300kg+ lighter than a Cayman, but it feels even more. The steering is light but suits the car well. It doesn’t have quite the feel of a 718, but the whole chassis is so communicative that it isn’t an issue. Steering is a little heavier in Sport mode, but I’m not sure it makes much difference.

It certainly does feel noticeably more compact than a Cayman – but it’s actually the same width. So you’d have to put the feeling down to the greater agility allowing you to use all the road better.

Engine



It’s a fun engine. It’s very free revving and responsive. At low revs there is some noticeable lag – I’ve recently measured it at 1.5 seconds at 2000rpm, rapidly falling to 0.5 seconds at higher revs. I’m pretty sure it has reduced somewhat over the miles and hope the trend continues. A decent amount of torque is available off boost below 2000 and quite a bit of boost too. Unlike the 718 the off/on boost transition is much more progressive and less dramatic (since the engine is less heavily boosted, only peaking at around 0.9 bar compared with 1.4 bar for the 718).

The actual performance doesn’t usually get much of a mention. That’s reasonable - it’s not what the car is about. But make no mistake it’s a fast car – continues to pull away from a 981S all way to 140mph. A bit faster than a 718 too. The effortlessness and lack of drama can make you unaware of just how fast it is.

Generally, I’m no fan of sports exhaust and pouring petrol down the exhaust to give pops and crackles (even in Normal) offends my engineering sensibilities. That said it does lend character to the engine and I suppose I have to admit I like it. I can put up with the pistol cracks on upward changes in Sport (when the Sports exhaust is “on”) but the flatulence on the overrun is a step too far for me and I find it embarrassing about town. I wish it was switchable – or removed. It will be interesting to see how the noise is affected by the particulate filter on WLTP compliant cars – Alpine are suggesting that the Sports exhaust is highly desirable then. At cruising speeds in either Normal or Sport mode the exhaust is already reduced to a very muted hum in the background.

Even road testers get excellent economy – mid thirties is easily attained, even with some spirited driving. On long runs 40 or more is the norm.

Transmission



As testers say – the gearchange is good but not quite as smooth and slick as PDK.

There is, however, more to a transmission than that. The Alpine has a couple advantages. The first is the ratio set – much lower and more closely spaced than the Cayman’s. Where you would frequently like a ratio between 1st and 2nd or 2nd and 3rd on the Cayman – you have a gear for every occasion with the Alpine. The other advantage the A110 has is the much-reduced level of creep relative to PDK. With the Cayman it is practically impossible to brake smoothly to a halt without slipping into neutral while still rolling. No such issue with the Alpine.

You can’t press both accelerator and brake together going forwards (you can in reverse). Personally, I find that a pity – it gives you more control when parking, for example. It’s also a technique racers use to overcome lag. While I wouldn’t do much of that it would be handy on occasion when you want to get smartly onto a roundabout and otherwise would be caught off boost.

Overall, yes the PDK gearbox is better – but I prefer the Alpine transmission as a whole.

Brakes



The PE brakes (bigger than standard remember) rarely get a mention – but I regard them as terrific. Unlike most brakes these days they aren’t overserved – they might well feel heavy at first. Power and progression, however, is very good indeed. One of the few road tests which tested them properly found them just as powerful as ceramics on the 718, but with better consistency and progression. And that was with repeated stops from 100mph.

Comfort and Convenience



Let me agree with quite a lot of the press comments
.
1) The interior doesn’t look as plush as the Cayman

2) Oddment is almost non-existent. It is inexcusable, even allowing for weight saving. I have added 5 cargo nets and a couple of plastic trays behind the seats (only possible if you are short) and a couple of coat hooks on the seat backs. Total extra weight probably less than a kilo.

3) Luggage space is lacking. It certainly is compared with a Cayman. It’s a decent amount of space compared other cars in the class, but not very conveniently arranged. You will probably need a bespoke suitcase to use the shallow front boot effectively (nearly £500 from Alpine – but around £130 elsewhere). The rear boot is similar in size to the front but has a small opening which makes it only suitable for squashy bags. There is actually more space behind the seats than either boot for shorties like me – but it’s quite difficult to access behind the buckets. All that said, there is plenty of space for a weekend away – and a continental tour is perfectly feasible if you pack carefully.

How about the interior in use? The seats are well liked and comfortable even for long journeys. Unusually they don’t impede access much – the A110 fairs very well in that regard. It is fair to point out that they aren’t as supportive laterally as some buckets– but, for me, that fits in with the aim of making the car useable everyday – rather than a track weapon.

Ah but what about the much-criticised switchgear? Frankly I don’t know what planet the detractors are on. It may not look as up-market as the Cayman’s, but it is much better placed, vastly better ergonomically, and, for the most part, feels better engineered than the Cayman’s. The one glaring exception is the cruise control which I regularly operate inadvertently with my elbow. Given that I rarely if ever operate it advertently (is there such a word?), I find dedicating the steering wheel buttons to cruise decidedly irritating.

The infotainment is initially very unimpressive – unattractive and awkward to control via the touch screen. There are a couple of mitigating factors – much of the interaction with the system can be done via the multimedia stalk on the steering column (not the best engineered switch in the world to be fair). In addition, although voice control functions are limited, those that there are work well – even on the move. But the big plus is the Focal audio which is really very good – in a different league to the Bose system on my Cayman.

Refinement? You might expect – and one or two tests would lead you to believe – that the Porsche had the advantage. Not so – the Alpine is quieter with engine, exhaust and wind noise well suppressed at motorway speeds. But the big plus is that road roar on coarse surfaces (the Achilles heel of the Cayman) is far better suppressed. The result is that listening to music at speed – a waste of time in the Cayman – is actually very pleasant in the Alpine.

I’ve never seen the headlights mentioned. The LED lights are standard on all models and are terrific with a very well-defined dip beam and great range on main beam.

Expensive?



The Alpine is much better equipped than the Cayman. Even the most basic (Pure) model has lightweight buckets, LED lights, climate, automatic wipers, keyless entry and an E-diff. Add to that it has a more sophisticated and more expensive to make chassis in Aluminium. The Cayman counters with some door pockets, a glove box and some flash looking cupholders and better infotainment. A sports exhaust has been recently added. The bottom line is that the Alpine is spec for spec quite a bit cheaper.

So, the Alpine is better equipped, cheaper and more expensive to make because of its sophisticated suspension and chassis. So far from being expensive it’s actually good value – unless you think a Porsche badge is worth a lot money.

Miserablegit

735 posts

54 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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Good review.

I'm almost at 2000 miles - being able to use more revs has really changed the experience. The car is perfectly happy pootling along or moving like the proverbial scalded cat.

My only negative is I prefer the dash display in normal (traditional easy to read dial types) but always drive in sport as I prefer throttle response and noise but could do without the flashy dials that replace the normal set up in the display. Hopefully this will be available in a software update.

Stereo is very good but not getting a lot of use..





bcr5784

Original Poster:

3,817 posts

90 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
quotequote all
Miserablegit said:
Good review.

I'm almost at 2000 miles - being able to use more revs has really changed the experience. The car is perfectly happy pootling along or moving like the proverbial scalded cat.

My only negative is I prefer the dash display in normal (traditional easy to read dial types) but always drive in sport as I prefer throttle response and noise but could do without the flashy dials that replace the normal set up in the display. Hopefully this will be available in a software update.

Stereo is very good but not getting a lot of use..
Revs do make more difference than one might iniitially think. The oft-made criticism of turbos is that it's all about mid range grunt . With the Alpine it's not -probably because the torque limitations of the gearbox (320nm) mean that it is necessary to extend the torque curve upwards to get a respectable amount of power. So the engine feels more like a NA one than you might expect.

timhum

101 posts

128 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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I covered 2,800 miles in car now and pretty much agree with the report. We've just completed a return trip to Geneva to visit our son and family, normally a RRS trip. We went out via the back roads from Troyes via some of the champagne country and then through the Cotes D'Or to Beaune followed by a drive over the Jura to Geneva. Return was a blast up the Autoroute to Calais. The car was enormous fun cruising comfortably and quietly at 130kph. Cross country and through the mountains was a dream. For packing luggage we purchased two travel bags from e Bags. they are carry on size without wheels and fit comfortably in the front boot. Shoes, jackets and squashy stuff all went in the rear boot. We had no problem packing enough clothing for a week. Inside quite a bit of stuff fits behind the seats, camera, maps, travel documents, essential supplies and junk. Its tricky getting to but quite useable, I'm 6ft 1in so have the seat a fair way but not all the way back. Fuel consumption for the whole trip showed 38mpg on the computer which seems to be quite accurate.
In previous years I've been a serial Porsche and AM buyer but this car puts more of a smile on my face than any of them. I recommend anyone to try a test drive to see just how good this car is.
Tim

DMZ

69 posts

105 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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Thanks for that, great review.

I have test driven a 981 Cayman GTS and it didn't do much for me (not much involvement) but the Alpine seems like a better effort. The 4-cyl engine in the Alpine would probably concern me, how do you find the lack of cylinders etc? You mentioned lag in the Alpine.

timhum

101 posts

128 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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The engine does a great job. In sport mode I like to use the paddles, this seems to eliminate most lag. In regular drive its lazier but perfect for traffic and motorway. Book yourself a test drive, I'd really like to hear what you have to say as I'm biased
Tim

CABC

2,662 posts

46 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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good to hear more real life experiences.

there's a thread in the Porsche forums right now about modern cars lacking involvement. I hope Alpine and others see the opportunity for more cars like this.

bcr5784

Original Poster:

3,817 posts

90 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
quotequote all
DMZ said:
Thanks for that, great review.

I have test driven a 981 Cayman GTS and it didn't do much for me (not much involvement) but the Alpine seems like a better effort. The 4-cyl engine in the Alpine would probably concern me, how do you find the lack of cylinders etc? You mentioned lag in the Alpine.
I'm not going to suggest that the Alpine engine is as nice as the 981 is when ON SONG - it isn't. But and it's a big BUT, at sensible road speeds and with the gear ratios Porsche lumber their cars, to enjoy the 981 engine you often have to go faster than you want or is sensible. The whole ethos of the Alpine is fun at sensible speeds. The problem with the 981 is that both the engine and (perhaps to an even greater extent) the chassis come alive at silly speeds. In the case of the 981 too (and for the similar reasons) the car is great at toodling, and pretty good at hooning - but much less good at 6 or 7 tenths. So I'm not going to say the Alpine is a BETTER car than a 981 - but it sure is more fun far more of the time, Re lag yes if you are sensitive to these things (I am) it's noticeable but keep revs above 3000 and it's not an issue (to me) - but just try it and see how it grabs you.

Edited by bcr5784 on Thursday 1st November 20:43

Prestonese

390 posts

50 months

Thursday 1st November 2018
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DMZ said:
Thanks for that, great review.

I have test driven a 981 Cayman GTS and it didn't do much for me (not much involvement) but the Alpine seems like a better effort. The 4-cyl engine in the Alpine would probably concern me, how do you find the lack of cylinders etc? You mentioned lag in the Alpine.
It depends what priorities you have. I came from a manual CGTS (PTV, X73, PCCB) and thought that was a pure drivers spec. I do miss certain aspects of the car but on UK roads, it's difficult to say with honesty that it was much fun. The chassis can handle most things without any excitement which makes the whole purist spec redundant in my view unless you found somewhere which allows you to shift up and down regularly between 2nd and 5th. On track is a different story but even then there's always an argument that the GT4 is better etc etc.

The Alpine is a lot more charming but I have to admit the engine note is not fantastic. It's not bad and it certainly is better than the 718 in my view and it's more effervescent - though mainly because it more appropriate gearing ratios and the car weighs about 250-300kg less than a CGTS. You also get a nice turbo hissing sound in pretty much all speeds and modes which I really like and is different to anything else I can think of in this space.

Since I've owned the Alpine, I've not lusted after my CGTS as much. Sure, the engine note will never be quite as good but the rest of the package is just as good if not better. It's a better long range cruiser (storage space aside), it's more fun and I think it's more suited to UK B roads than a Cayman. You also get a lot more nods and thumbs up than you would do with a Porche.

There have been talk about the back end stepping out on track. I suspect that is mainly due to the wheel size. The Alpine has 18 inch rims and compared to typical 20s on Caymans, you are bound to get a different level of traction. The Alpine wears "all round" tyres, whereas the Cayman tends to have 'sportier' Pirellis or Goodyears. The size of the Cayman tyres also means more unpleasant cabin noise and the irritating tendancy to scrub in cold weather.

Despite all of this, the Alpine interior is not as good and the overall customer service is unproven. Having said that, you have none of the baggage of Porsche ownership (whatever that might be) and the experience of driving the Alpine is quite unique compared to what else is on offer in the market these days. The owner's club as well seems to be a lot more accessible. It's a very different crowd to what you get with other marques and I like it.

bcr5784

Original Poster:

3,817 posts

90 months

Friday 2nd November 2018
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Prestonese said:
.. Having said that, you have none of the baggage of Porsche ownership (whatever that might be) and the experience of driving the Alpine is quite unique compared to what else is on offer in the market these days. The owner's club as well seems to be a lot more accessible. It's a very different crowd to what you get with other marques and I like it.
For the moment I think the majority of British owners have bought the car because of the way it drives. One could drone on about the leather with contrasting stitching as some Porsche owners do - but I've not seen anyone putting that forward as something that might have swayed their purchase of the A110. Regretably that will (and I suppose must) change if demand is to be strong enough to keep the model afloat. Given that you would be hard pressed to find a car at almost any price which was a better head-turner the buying demographic will change if the car proves reliable.


downsman

1,080 posts

101 months

Friday 2nd November 2018
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Thanks for the real world reviews. I'm not going to be spending the money needed to buy a new Alpine anytime soon, but if I had the budget, I like to think I would be brave enough to choose one.

I'm looking forward to seeing one of you lucky owners out on the road soon smile

DanGPR

933 posts

116 months

Friday 2nd November 2018
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I spotted a blue A110 parked up at the airfield at Goodwood today, it looked great.

I'd be interested to hear from an owner; do you feel that the car loses anything as a pure drivers car from being an automatic? I appreciate it makes for a much more flexible all round package, but do you ever find yourself yearning for that 3rd pedal?

Prestonese

390 posts

50 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
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DanGPR said:
I spotted a blue A110 parked up at the airfield at Goodwood today, it looked great.

I'd be interested to hear from an owner; do you feel that the car loses anything as a pure drivers car from being an automatic? I appreciate it makes for a much more flexible all round package, but do you ever find yourself yearning for that 3rd pedal?
Sometimes. It's not as much as an issue than I feared it would be. My main concern with the car before I bought it was the engine and gearbox but actually they are absolutely fine. Most owners I've spoken to haven't made a big thing of it either. I actually miss having more cabin storage space than a manual gearbox.

bcr5784

Original Poster:

3,817 posts

90 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
quotequote all
DanGPR said:
I spotted a blue A110 parked up at the airfield at Goodwood today, it looked great.

I'd be interested to hear from an owner; do you feel that the car loses anything as a pure drivers car from being an automatic? I appreciate it makes for a much more flexible all round package, but do you ever find yourself yearning for that 3rd pedal?
Not really - but,my choice does not depend on a simplistic manual good, auto bad (or vice-versa) criterion. On a Cayman I'd go PDK even though creep irks - the gear ratios on the manual are just too silly (when linked to the torque characteristics of either 981 or 718). I'd tend to go dual clutch on any car with significant turbo lag - but some autos (especially torque converter ones) have so much creep that it would drive me mad. But I did try a manual Evora and I'd go manual on that.

But the dual clutch box on the Alpine suits the car so well that I very much doubt I'd go manual even if it was an option. Simple truth is I like good examples of both and don't really know what all the fuss is about.

Edited by bcr5784 on Saturday 3rd November 08:38

Maxym

928 posts

181 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
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Interesting report and comments for this 981 GTS owner.

I think I'd find the lack of oddments space irritating. How about wiper operation? Is it the usual anti-clockwise nudge up for 'more' or what used to be IIRC the French-style clockwise nudge down? If the latter that would irritate me too...

Those (potential) issues aside, it sounds a terrific drive. Oh, and very impressive fuel economy.

cerb4.5lee

12,313 posts

125 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
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I think with the Alpine being a brand new modern car I don't think many punters would be interested in a manual gearbox anyway. The manual gearbox is old school(which I personally prefer), but modern performance cars have moved away from it for years now.

With live in a world that's full of technology...so a manual gearbox would be out of place in this anyway I reckon. It's great to read that the owners reviews match up to how well its been received in the motoring press.

Alpine should be very chuffed with this car for sure.

bcr5784

Original Poster:

3,817 posts

90 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
quotequote all
Maxym said:
Interesting report and comments for this 981 GTS owner.

. How about wiper operation? Is it the usual anti-clockwise nudge up for 'more' or what used to be IIRC the French-style clockwise nudge down? If the latter that would irritate me too...

Those (potential) issues aside, it sounds a terrific drive. Oh, and very impressive fuel economy.
The wipers are automatic as standard, so apart from adjusting the sensitivity I don't touch them much. They do very occasionally get it into their head to wipe a dry screen - but that seems par for the course with auto wipers.

rockin

6,786 posts

190 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
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cerb4.5lee said:
I don't think many punters would be interested in a manual gearbox anyway. The manual gearbox is old school(which I personally prefer), but modern performance cars have moved away from it for years now.
You don't have to drive an old relic to get a manual, and you don't have to accept an auto to drive a modern sports car.

Some of the oldest, most established sports car builders like Porsche and Corvette will still sell you an excellent manual gearbox.

It's not as if Renault don't have a manual transmission they could use - it's just inconvenient to engineer a decent shift linkage for a mid mounted installation.

greenarrow

1,712 posts

62 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
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Really interesting and considered review from a former Porsche and current Alpine owner, which dispels some of the uninformed comments we've been seeing from fanboys!

My wife and I had a long chat with the Alpine salesman at Goodwood and it was so refreshing to a) be taken seriously and not looked down on for whatever reason b) to talk to someone who was an obvious enthusiast and happy to talk about all aspects of the car and keen to offer no strings test drives etc.

I think we will own one of these one day. Its on my very small list of modern performance cars that I really would like to own and can see myself actually buying. I haven't felt this way about a new car since the Toyota GT86 launch some 6 years ago. I'd maybe add the Mk7 and MK8 Fiesta ST to that list. These are three cars that to me I could imagine enjoying all the time on any type of road without feeling the need to do license losing speeds.

I think the economy is one thing that stands out and really shows the merit of weight loss. Cant imagine a 718 Cayman getting anywhere near the high 30s MPG that you owners can get on a run.

For Alpine to get a fully equipped coupe to market (rather than stripped out or low spec track day type car) at 1100KG is a very notable achievement. There's frankly nothing else like it out there.

Edited by greenarrow on Saturday 3rd November 11:02

MarJay

2,059 posts

120 months

Saturday 3rd November 2018
quotequote all
This is going to sound really quite rude in such a positive thread, but the goal is positive, I promise.

What are we reckoning on the depreciation of these? I happen to have a big pot of cash I could use to buy a car, but it's not enough to buy one of these outright. I've recently got a job in London which means I can't use the car to commute, and myself and the GF have an estate car we use as a load lugger. On that basis, something small, light and fun fits the bill.

There is more to it though. My dad is and has pretty much always been a huge Renault fan, and it's down to my Uncle who has had all sorts of Renaults over the years, including a mid 70s Alpine A110 in that gorgeous blue. His house was flooded out, so he had to store it in my parents garage when I was a teenager. I fell in love with it, and to own a newer version would be a dream come true.

Do we think they'll keep their value, or will I be able to pick one up in a couple of years for sensible money?