Litchfield Alpine A110: PH Trade-Off!

"Litchfield's remap costs Β£995 before VAT and there's little doubt it makes the A110 an even more exciting sports car than it already is." So spake m'colleague Mr Prosser of the Litchfield-tuned Alpine A110 he drove for PH this week. While some may have thought there was little room for improvement upon the utterly fabulous French sports car, then, it turns out there was - and for that rather reasonable sum, you can turn it into a car that will worry a 911.

Combined with the cost of an entry-level A110, that brings the total cost of a Litchfield-tuned example to Β£48,099. Still not an exorbitant figure in this day and age, and one for which it's hard to imagine a car that does so much, so well. So is there anything we can we drum up for half that price that holds a candle to it?

Well, keeping in mind that the hotted-up Alpine has the pace to frighten Porsche 911s, it is to the 911 we must head first. Whereupon we find this 997 Carrera S, dating from 2005, and with a very reasonable 60,000 miles on the clock. It's got the sports seats, Sport Chrono pack and a smattering of other options, and also comes with a full service history with the most recent being a big one. All very tempting - but also rather obvious. As tempting as the Porsche is, the lightweight, specialist feel of the Alpine is missing here - as is its tuner status.

Offering the latter by the bucket, however, is the Toyota GT86. Currently, there are no tuned examples for sale in the PH Classifieds, but this one, with just 5,000 miles on the clock, looks like the ideal base. Its Β£18,999 cost should, with a bit of haggling, leave plenty of room in the budget for an aftermarket turbo or supercharger conversion, an uprated clutch and some new brakes. And you can even have the work done by Litchfield, should you choose.

But as tempting as a boosted GT86 is, it still doesn't have quite that hardcore edge we're looking for. Which is why our money would instead go on this fantastic-looking Lotus Exige S2. Finished in Titanium Storm with black wheels, it looks hard as nails, and every bit as modern as the Alpine to these eyes despite its 12-year age deficit. Or surfeit, in fact, depending on which way round you look at it. The Lotus has a not-inconsiderable 61,000 miles under its wheels, too; either someone's been a committed commuter, or it's seen an awful lot of track days.

Happily, it's probably the former, as this Exige has the Touring pack fitted to it, which makes it marginally more usable than the standard car- you get electric windows, carpets, and plusher seats. Such luxury! But even if it has done a few track days, the signs are there that that shouldn't matter; a recent clutch and refreshed rear dampers will help it to feel fresh.

What's more, this particular Exige can play the tuner card, too, as it's had a few tweaks of its own. They're minor, mind you, so the goodness of the standard car hasn't been corrupted - but the engine has been freed up a little with an aftermarket exhaust and induction kit, which should give it a suitably fruity soundtrack. There's an upgraded radiator, too, to help with cooling - not that the Toyota-sourced engine's reliability has ever been in much doubt.

Oh sure, the Exige gives away quite a bit of power to the Alpine; both have 1.8-litre engines, but the Alpine's is, of course, turbocharged. Let's not forget, though, that Lotus made the pursuit of lightness its own long before the modern Alpine was even a twinkle in its parent company's eye, so the raw performance figures are far closer than you'd think.

The one area where this Exige really does lose out to the Alpine of course, apart from its age, is on day-to-day usability. You don't get your air conditioning, or your sat nav, or much else in the way of creature comforts. But as a fast road and track-focused weekend toy, it'll offer you everything the Litchfield Alpine can and more - and all for less than half the price.


Engine: 1,798cc four-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 304@6,295rpm
Torque (lb ft): 298@3,450rpm
0-62mph: 4.2 secs (estimated)
Top speed: 165mph
Weight: 1,098kg
MPG: n/a
CO2: n/a
Price: from Β£48,099


Engine: 1,796cc, four-cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 190@7,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 138@6,800rpm
0-62mph: 4.7 secs
Top speed: 147mph
Weight: 914kg
MPG: 32
CO2: 208g/km
Price: Β£22,500

P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (93) Join the discussion on the forum

  • hughcam 09 Dec 2018

    Driven both and owned the an Exige s2 and two 111r’s. As a drivers car there isn’t even a comparison for me, the Loti are on another level for engagement and fun.

    The Alpine is a cracking everyday sports car though and far more usable. Really needed a manual option for me to put one on the fleet though.

  • Simon Owen 09 Dec 2018

    Did exactly this.

    Drove the £50k Alpine back to back with a lightly modified ‘nearly new’ 86, money no object yes I would have the Alpine but (performance aside) there were several things the 86 was better at and it still felt very special.

    At £50k vs <£25k it just didn’t stack up, much as I loved the Alpine.

    I went down the NA route so I’m down on power, it would cost another £3,850 to get Alpine performance via a very well designed stage one turbo set up which I’m told maintain v good reliability and exceptional throttle response etc.

    The Lotus is not a great comp IMHO as they both do v different things whereas the 86 is actually very similar in many ways.

    I would dearly love to lose 200kg in the 86 though .... probably it’s biggest downfall against the Alpine, well that and the way the Alpine deals with Blighty blacktop :-)

    Edited by Simon Owen on Sunday 9th December 10:36

  • Max_Torque 09 Dec 2018

    article said:
    Combined with the cost of an entry-level A110, that brings the total cost of a Litchfield-tuned example to £48,099. Still not an exorbitant figure in this day and age, and one for which it's hard to imagine a car that does so much, so well
    Ok, maybe i'm a tight wad, but nearly 50 large for a one trick pony seems a lot to me!

    (the only thing that a niche sports car like the alpine does well is go fast. It can't seat four, tow a trailer, go off road, return >50mpg, survive a crash with an SUV, get a sideboard in the back, etc etc)

  • borat52 09 Dec 2018

    Personally I’d be looking towards a ND MX5 with a BBR turbo. You’d have a 2/3 year old car with under 20k miles and 240bhp/<1100kg. £25k would be enough to sort out brakes/suspension too.

  • artdealer 09 Dec 2018

    This upgrade would elevate the A110 into a great power to weight ratio. Although I'm unsure about immediately invalidating the manufacturer warranty on a new car, but has anyone, ever, had a claim knocked back after a remap? (I know that should probably another thread and there may even be one) Agree with previous respondent about a manual option would be preferred by myself.

    Alpine have put the cat amongst the pigeons with their 1108kg sports car.

View all comments in the forums Make a comment