A brief history lesson on the Alpine A110 story so far. The standard car arrived to wild acclaim in 2017, followed a couple of years later by a track-focused, more powerful A110 S that met with slightly more muted praise. Some felt a key tenet of the Alpine's appeal had been lost in toughening it up for track, while others - this writer included - enjoyed it as a different twist on the same basic formula. Then along have come companies like Life110 to somewhat straddle the two official offerings.
However, since the debut of the S in June 2019, the prospect of a standard, softer '110 with the near-300hp power upgrade has been widely discussed and eagerly anticipated. By only the most ardent of sports car fans, it's true, but widely discussed nonetheless. Now we have that car: the 2021 Alpine A110 Legende GT, a car with the 292hp, sports exhaust and upgraded brakes of the S - but the "comfort and grand-touring luxury of the Legende GT models". (A Legende GT launched last year made to with the 252hp version of the 1.8 turbo.)
So the makeover is familiar - note the gold badges, translucent rear lights, and chunky leather seats - and the end result is as well. Perhaps one day there'll be an Alpine A110 configuration that isn't completely wonderful, but that seems unlikely given the base product - and it certainly isn't this one.
The LGT feels faster than standard, that's for certain. Not by a huge margin (torque is identical at 239lb ft, don't forget, on account of the gearbox) but by a noticeable amount at higher revs. Here a peak of 292hp is made at 6,400rpm against a regular A110's 252hp at 6,000rpm, so it's only with revs that the difference is felt. With effort comes reward, however, the GT just that bit more accelerative, a tad spritelier when extending each gear, and still revving keenly. Which, in fact, serves to make it pretty quick, and that tends to be forgotten when assessing Alpines; the claims of less than 10 seconds to 100mph feel eminently believable. The S-specific sports exhaust is nice to have here, too, gurgling and burbling away with your throttle inputs - although don't forget the non-S can have its own pipe upgrade as well, so it's not a huge advantage.
Have you heard the Alpine A110 drives superbly? In case you hadn't, a brief reminder: the Alpine A110 drives superbly, and the Legende GT is almost as fine an exponent of its talents as can be found. Being so small just opens the world up, meaning roads become more accommodating; being so light makes it agile and eager in a fashion that excess weight conspicuously dulls; and being relatively soft means it flows and soothes like stiffer cars never can. Almost four years on from its launch and the Alpine remains the nicest of surprises every single time, supple yet poised, comfortable yet engrossing, dainty yet wickedly fast.
The Legende GT, broadly speaking, is more of the same, and anyone coming to it from something like a big-wheeled Cayman or BMW M2 will marvel at the ride quality. But the 18-inch diamond cut alloys, lovely though they are, do seem to rob the A110 of just a tiny bit of brilliance, thumping a little more than memory suggests the normal 18s (and certainly the standard 17s) might do. But it's marginal, really, and certainly less stiff than the S would be. And the wheels do look superb, giving a mini supercar feel to the A110. The brakes that sit behind them, also borrowed from the S, are like the exhaust; nice to have, but actually available as an option on the standard car. Which already has great pedal feel. So both are far from vital extras.
That said, there are additional elements of the Legende GT package that do elevate it just a little bit above the other A110s, which is useful given the price. Though the heated Sabelt Comfort leather seats might seem at odds with the lightweight ethos, they're supportive, comfortable, and - whisper it - all the better for being heated on a cold morning. The interior does benefit from the gloss carbon, copper weave and aluminium, and the Mercury Silver matt paint again makes the little French sports car look that bit plusher than the Alpine Blue ones on Fuchs wheels. Which, presumably, is exactly the point.
Because it is quite a bit more expensive, the £61,655 asking price potentially a stumbling block given where both the A110 and - you knew it was coming - Porsche 718 ranges start at. The Legende GT does at least have exclusivity on its side; just 300 will be built for Europe, with 26 allocated to the UK and only 10 remaining for sale at the time of writing. And your local OPC probably sold 10 Caymans last week. Whether exclusivity is worth the premium is ultimately up for the buyer to decide, but those extra touches do ensure the latest Legende GT feels a cut above just a limited run A110 with more power. That car alone would have been fantastic, which makes this one even more so. Predictable, perhaps - but true.
SPECIFICATION | 2021 ALPINE A110 LEGENDE GT
Engine: 1,798cc, 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 292@6,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 239@2,000-6,400rpm
Top speed: 162mph
Weight: 1,134kg (minimum kerbweight)
MPG: 40.3-41.5 (WLTP)
CO2: 153-158g/km (WLTP)
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