RE: Alpine A110 - Geneva 2017

RE: Alpine A110 - Geneva 2017

Tuesday 7th March 2017

Alpine A110 - Geneva 2017

Alpine A110 goes full frontal, baring a 1,103kg kerbweight, 252hp engine and seven-speed DCT



We knew the name, we knew what it looked like - finally, here's the Alpine A110 and the numbers the prolonged teaser campaign denied us. The important ones first - power is from a mid-mounted 1.8-litre turbocharged engine with 252hp and 236lb ft, driving the rear wheels through (as expected) a dual-clutch auto, in this instance a seven-speed unit.

Here we are at last!
Here we are at last!
It does 155mph, hitting 62mph in 4.5 seconds on the way, but the stat Alpine is most proud of is the one that it's been holding back - the weight. The 'unladen' figure of 1,103kg before options is more than an Alfa Romeo 4C's dry weight of 895kg (though that apparently depends on whose scales you're using) and the Lotus Elise Sport 220's 914kg. It's still an impressive measure though, especially compared with the car it's really aimed at - the Porsche Cayman.

That equates to a power-to-weight ratio of 228hp per tonne, against 219hp per tonne for an equivalent £41,800 PDK-equipped 718 Cayman from its 300hp and 1,365kg DIN kerbweight. Unlike the Alpine the Cayman is, of course, available as a manual and this weighs 30kg less for 224hp per tonne. Meanwhile the 350hp 718 Cayman S boasts 258hp per tonne as a manual and 253hp per tonne with PDK, the latter a £50,756 car.

So it appears the big brains at Alpine have done their sums, slotting the A110 between the 718 Cayman and 718 Cayman S. UK pricing is TBC but Alpine has confirmed 58,500 euros including taxes for the fully loaded Premiere Edition in the French market - in France a 718 Cayman PDK by the same measure is 56,810 euros before any other options. So it's on the money.

It's a dual-clutch and dual-clutch only...
It's a dual-clutch and dual-clutch only...
But how did Alpine hit that weight? The aluminium chassis is one significant step, favoured according to engineering head David Twohig because of its lower cost and better finish than carbon fibre, and inherent benefits over steel. Then there's a host of other clever tricks, from the fixed-back seats that weigh 13.1kg each - around half that of the seat in a Megane RS - to a windscreen washer system that is so efficient it justifies a washer bottle 2.5 litres smaller than standard, for instance.

Now, back to the engine. Howls of disapproval are already being heard, because there's no getting away from the fact that the engine displacement and outputs look as dinky as the car itself. No matter, says David Twohig, because the brief was to build a car that would compete on agility, not grunt.

"Alpine's history is in cars that pivot around the wheel, that thrill without being overwhelming and that make the driver feel at centre of everything - and that is what we've set out to achieve," says Twohig. Proof will be in the driving; for now we have that 4C-equalling 0-62mph figure of 4.5 seconds against best-case 4.7 seconds for a Sport Chrono equipped 718 Cayman PDK or 4.2 seconds for the equivalent S. While we're playing Top Trumps both Porsches are significantly faster on top speed too - 170mph for the 718 and 177mph for the S.

Weight distribution is 46:54 front to rear
Weight distribution is 46:54 front to rear
Weight distribution is 46:54 front to back - aided by the fuel tank sitting in the front. There's also double wishbone suspension at the front and back of the car, new gear ratios for the Getrag-supplied gearbox, deliberately small tyres, an e-diff (configurable through the different driving modes) and an aerodynamic diffuser to create downforce without compromising the rear-end styling. The steering is power-assisted, too - not ideal on paper, but all the better for controlling mass, says Twohig. The comparably light Elise and 4C both, of course, have non-assisted steering, the Elise demonstrating how it should be done with the Alfa Romeo proving otherwise...

"Throughout this project we concentrated on doing it right, so that meant custom pinion sets, a wet clutch, a latest seven-speed gearbox, launch control and three proper driving modes - Normal, Sport and Track - that have a distinct character across the engine and pedal maps and the active exhaust, and the option to go beyond Track and switch ESC completely off," says Twohig.

"The electronic solutions meant we didn't need a limited-slip diff. It would have added weight and complexity, where the reality is that an e-diff set-up can handle these power levels perfectly well. I've tested it and I can promise you that you can get some pretty big angles in Track mode without it feeling like it is about to bite you."

RHD production will begin early 2018 - hurry!
RHD production will begin early 2018 - hurry!
The Michelin Pilot Sports run on 18-inch wheels for the launch car with 205 section up front and 235 at the rear. 17s with 195 front and 225 rear will be standard on future entry-level models. "The tyres look just fine and their performance matches the weight, power and torque we have," says Twohig. "We didn't want loads of mechanical grip, we wanted a car that is mobile and which slides relatively easily under the right circumstances."

That UK price is coming later this year, with right-hand drive production beginning in early 2018. Dare we get excited?

[Jim Holder]

 



 

 

Author
Discussion

Dr G

Original Poster:

13,253 posts

175 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Front end is cool but it does have a bit of a dumpy bum!

great_kahn

76 posts

19 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Circa 50k?!?!?!? You would have to be madder than a box of frogs to pay that for a piggy nosed Renault.

E65Ross

20,897 posts

145 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
I really quite like this!

nickfrog

8,994 posts

150 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
great_kahn said:
Circa 50k?!?!?!? You would have to be madder than a box of frogs to pay that for a piggy nosed Renault.
We have a new Chief Trolling Officer.

jsc15

709 posts

141 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
If it's £50k for the specced-up Launch edition, are we looking at around £40k/£43k for the "normal" edition?
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V8 FOU

2,548 posts

80 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Yes,yes,yes.
Where do I sign? This seems so much more than the 4C.

Actus Reus

3,424 posts

88 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
That side profile is a bit....challenging.

However, these are about the driving and the weight bodes well I suppose. Nevertheless the appeal of a 718 Cayman S is strong.

RobGT81

5,051 posts

119 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
nickfrog said:
We have a new Chief Trolling Officer.

It needs another 300bhp before it's a proper drivers car etc.

Looks fking spot on to me.

j_s14a

785 posts

111 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Why would they use that hateful gearbox?


mx-6

3,798 posts

146 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
I like the look of this, quite smooth overall and not too fussy. The front end is obviously reminiscent of the classic Alpine and I like the sloping back end, looks a bit Audi A7-ish. The side profile reminds me of the Mazda MX3.

It's good that there are a few light weight sports cars like this now. While it's quick I can't really get that excited about a 1.8 turbo 4-pot semi-auto though but I guess that's where we are with things these days.

Edited by mx-6 on Tuesday 7th March 13:12


Edited by mx-6 on Tuesday 7th March 13:51

dunnoreally

186 posts

41 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
On the one hand, we have hear a sports car boasting about its lightness which isn't available in manual, and on the other we have a manual option returning to the 911 gt3. I wonder if that says something concrete about the market, or just that the manufacturers don't really know which way things are going either.

blueg33

19,811 posts

157 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Looks wise, you either get it or you don't.

Personally I think it looks great, styling clues from the original made modern, I'm just not sure about the rear lights (too Audi). Profile is spot on, front is great.

I would have already ordered one, but I would want to drive it first


j90gta

441 posts

67 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
I really want it to succeed. I just hope it's not as disappointing as the 4C.

hufggfg

543 posts

126 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
If this had a manual gearbox, and was naturally aspirated I'd be super interested, but with a turbo and DCT I have no interest at all (though realise I must not being the target customer... obviously).

I do hope they're successful with it though! We need more lightweight sports cars that focus on fun!

menguin

3,456 posts

154 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Looks like an Audi from the back, not sold on the front. To get away with being all about driving enjoyment it does at least need to look good - or be significantly cheaper than the competition. The GT86, for example. This isn't doing it for me - no way I'd choose it over a 718 Cayman.

cmoose

42,396 posts

162 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
hufggfg said:
If this had a manual gearbox, and was naturally aspirated I'd be super interested, but with a turbo and DCT I have no interest at all (though realise I must not being the target customer... obviously).

I do hope they're successful with it though! We need more lightweight sports cars that focus on fun!
Agreed. Wish the car well, and very much like the look of the tyre sizes. But all that effort on a lovely bespoke aluminium structure only to drop in four-pot turbo and compulsory DCT...oh, well!

MustardCutter

225 posts

53 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Dr G said:
Front end is cool but it does have a bit of a dumpy bum!
It has a cracking derriere if you ask me.

MikeGalos

216 posts

217 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
There's an old rule in collector cars (and retro designs) that people buy at 60 what they lusted after at 16.

The Alpine design came out in 1961 and wasn't exactly a modern look then. Its rally success was in the early 1970s.

So who is Renault targeting? The 60-70 year old sports car buyer demographic?

(Although, to be fair, the same could be asked of Porsche's 911 market)

great_kahn

76 posts

19 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
Its a mystery to me as well, Alpine is a meaningless name to all but the most ardent car fans. I'm sure Renault have done the market research and have determined there are buyers out there.. GT86 syndrome all over again... oh wow yeah that's amazing, yeah make that... then no bugger buys one.

cmoose

42,396 posts

162 months

Tuesday 7th March 2017
quotequote all
great_kahn said:
Its a mystery to me as well, Alpine is a meaningless name to all but the most ardent car fans. I'm sure Renault have done the market research and have determined there are buyers out there.. GT86 syndrome all over again... oh wow yeah that's amazing, yeah make that... then no bugger buys one.
Yeah, it's a tricky market. How many people who want a pure, lightweight sports car want something brand new with a turbo four-pot, an auto gearbox and an Alpine badge?

Car will probably have to appeal to non enthusiasts to be viable, just as an MX-5 does but the GT-86 doesn't. Well, probably not quite so much.

It seems like quite a purist proposition in some ways, but at least a chunk of that purist target market won't fancy the engine and gearbox much. So it's a niche within a niche unless it has mass market appeal.