RE: Litchfield Alpine A110: Driven

RE: Litchfield Alpine A110: Driven

Tuesday 4th December

Litchfield Alpine A110: Driven

The A110 could hardly be anymore lovely to drive. But could it be just a smidge quicker...



Forgetting the really expensive stuff that nobody who writes about cars for a living will ever be able to afford, I have never known any performance car to be met with as much universal praise as the new Alpine A110. Over the last 12 months I have watched a steady stream of car reviewers step out of the little sports car and rave about it. And yet, when the excitement finally drained away and rational thought had returned, every single one of them has muttered the same refrain: 'I wonder what it would be like with another 50hp...'

Gloucestershire tuning company Litchfield Motors took delivery of its own A110 a few months ago and has since been working through a handful of upgrades. A suspension package, a freer flowing exhaust system and perhaps a limited slip differential will become available some time next year, but a straightforward engine remap has already been given company founder Iain Litchfield's seal of approval and is being offered to customers immediately. Interestingly, Litchfield is so confident about the quality of the remap and the durability of the A110's 1.8-litre turbo engine that his upgrade comes with a warranty.

In completely standard specification Litchfield's A110 developed 256hp and a peak of 258lb ft of torque on the dyno, which is 4hp and a useful 22lb ft more than Alpine claims. 'The standard boost pressure is around 1.1 bar,' says Iain, 'and we increase that to 1.35 bar, going up to 1.45 a bit later in the mid-range, before tailing off again. That gives us 304hp at 6295rpm and 298lb ft at 3450rpm. We did have it up to 330lb ft in testing, but that made the car close to undriveable.


'The charge temperatures on the road and multiple dyno runs only went up four degrees C, which is nothing. We measure the cat temperatures to see how hot it's all getting and they were hardly any different on the new map. I'm happy the engine is running well within itself - I wouldn't put a warranty on it if I wasn't entirely confident.'

You can't fail to notice the difference the moment you open the taps and run the newly remapped engine through a couple of gears - the car feels not only a bit quicker in a straight line now, but enormously so. Whereas in standard form the A110 is quick and urgent, in this uprated spec it is forcefully accelerative, giving you the kind of hit in the back that you'd expect of a much more expensive sports car, or even a junior supercar. Never mind the Porsche 718 Cayman S; in this A110 you'll be frightening mid-range 911s.

Gains of 52hp and 62lb ft over the published figures perhaps don't look huge, but in percentage terms they are significant (21 per cent in both cases). What's more, the A110 is famously a very light car at around 1100kg, so those increases in power and torque actually count for even more. As it rolls out of the factory the A110 has 229bhp to push every 1000kg, whereas post remap that figure is 277hp/tonne. (For reference, the outgoing Porsche 911 Carrera S has exactly the same power to weight ratio.)


More straight line speed is all well and good, but if the remapped engine is peaky, or unresponsive, or in any way truculent it can hardly be judged to be an improvement. As it is, there are no such worries. The turbo spools up quickly at around 2000rpm, so the boost threshold is still very low in the rev range. From there the engine pulls with intent and at around 4500rpm you feel it light up again for the final dash to the limiter. This Renault-sourced four-cylinder was never a firecracker and even after this remap it's nothing of the sort, but there is good energy at the top end so you do chase after the redline. It's a pity it doesn't rev just a little higher, though, because you find yourself having to shift up a gear just when you want the engine to reach out a touch further.

If there is any more of a delay now between opening the throttle and drive reaching the rear axle it is so marginal that you'd have to drive a standard car back-to-back with this one to notice it. The truth is no turbocharged engine - short of those twin-turbo marvels you find in more exotic cars like the aforementioned 911 and the Ferrari 488 GTB - has instant throttle response, and while you can identify a brief hesitation here, you'll notice much the same in a stock A110.

In every other respect the Alpine feels as though it can handle this sort of power with ease. Perhaps the heaviest question mark that hung over any modification that affected a substantial uplift in power and torque was whether or not it would expose the lack of a limited slip differential. On greasy roads in chilly ambient conditions I have to say it does not.


The standard brake-based e-diff still works well enough on the road that you can neatly and predictably slide the car away from a sweeping second gear corner without lighting up the unloaded inside tyre. The A110 is as controllable and playful as it ever was, while at no point during my test drive did I feel it was traction limited. The long and short of it is the A110 feels like a car that was built to handle 300hp from day one.

The other benefit is that whereas the standard car sometimes feels stuck between second and third gears in certain corners, this one has enough power and torque to pull the longer ratio. That means you don't find yourself sitting on the limiter in second gear as you wait for the corner to straighten out, or shifting up mid-corner.

I cannot say how the power upgrade makes the car feel on a dry road, nor on a circuit. And while I was conflicted about a more powerful A110 having written countless times that I adore the factory car for its usable level of performance, I do not think a 52hp uplift in power suddenly makes it significantly less exploitable on the road. Litchfield's remap costs £995 before VAT and there's little doubt it makes the A110 an even more exciting sports car than it already is.


SPECIFICATION - LITCHFIELD ALPINE A110
Engine
1798cc, 4 cyls, turbo
Transmission 7-speed twin-clutch
Power (hp) 304hp@6295rpm
Torque (lb ft) 298@3450rpm
0-62mph 4.2 secs (estimated)
Top speed 165mph
Weight 1098kg
MPG n/a
CO2 n/a
Price £995 plus VAT





Author
Discussion

Nerdherder

Original Poster:

339 posts

33 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Fan bleeding tastic. Litchfield are a blessing.

slk 32

1,011 posts

129 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
'I wouldn't put a warranty on it unless I was entirely confident'

If you didn't put a warranty on it you wouldn't sell many at all

Kawasicki

5,631 posts

171 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Wonder how much the top speed has increased?

MDMA .

4,293 posts

37 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
£1194 for a re-map! No thanks smile

2Btoo

835 posts

139 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
MDMA . said:
£1194 for a re-map! No thanks smile
Re-map AND warranty! Keep up at the back! smile
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Bright Halo

493 posts

171 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
It’s called making hay whilst the sun shines.
Get the max before everyone is at it.

kambites

55,403 posts

157 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Article said:
Interestingly, Litchfield is so confident about the quality of the remap and the durability of the A110's 1.8-litre turbo engine that his upgrade comes with a warranty.
From what I remember the standard car is right on the limit of what Getrag specify the gearbox up to so I hope that warranty includes the gearbox!

It's certainly going to be pretty quick, if it works. smile

redroadster

792 posts

168 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Seems this tuner always gets it right ,well done .

stuart_83

354 posts

37 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Wasn't there supposed to be a 300bhp version coming out anyway, using the revised engine from the Mégane RS Trophy?

likesachange

1,515 posts

130 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Bravo.

More of these tuners should add warranties even if it's at a premium...
They are confident in there own tunes, right?

Terminator X

6,981 posts

140 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
stuart_83 said:
Wasn't there supposed to be a 300bhp version coming out anyway, using the revised engine from the Mégane RS Trophy?
RS Boss is trying to scotch that rumour so yes probably correct!

TX.

Helicopter123

4,452 posts

92 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
stuart_83 said:
Wasn't there supposed to be a 300bhp version coming out anyway, using the revised engine from the Mégane RS Trophy?
Meantime, existing owners can look at this map + warranty?

borat52

119 posts

144 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
The old 225/230 engines were relatively cheap to forge, wonder what a forged 1.8 with a posh turbo could push out?

Still makes me smile that TVR we’re pushing out 400bhp in 1100kg 20 years agosmile

Miserablegit

320 posts

45 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
We were flying supersonic 20 years ago!
This is progress apparently but bravo to Alpine and Litchfield. I might have dropped Litchfield an email earlier today...

stuart_83

354 posts

37 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Helicopter123 said:
Meantime, existing owners can look at this map + warranty?
Definitely - the only thing I regret about having my last car remapped was the lack of warranty.

Really like the look of these as I've always had a weak spot for fast Renaults. It'll be interesting to see what the residual values are like ... Hopefully strong.

Jeenyus161

116 posts

31 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
The want is STRONG for this one

Miserablegit

320 posts

45 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Presume performance will be better than stated.
As mentioned (by me) in another Alpine thread the A110 is hitting 4.2 one-up so with an extra 50hp are we looking at 3.7-3.9 with similar improvements to 1/4mile figures?



Caddyshack

1,092 posts

142 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
+50 bhp rarely relates to 0.4 / 0.5 second reduction in 0-60 when we are already under 5 secs.

Miserablegit

320 posts

45 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Remember this isn’t shifting the extra 400-500kg that we are normally talking about. An extra passenger (which is how 0-60 is tested I believe) gives the 4.5 0-60.


Tickle

2,922 posts

140 months

Monday 3rd December
quotequote all
Love the Alpine, they seem to be a great little car. Good to see such a renowned tuner getting in on developments early too.