It’s no secret that the Alpine A110’s turbocharged 1.8-litre engine has something left in the tank; the output of the Renault Sport Megane Trophy says as much. The four-cylinder unit is essentially unchanged between the two cars, with just a lower inertia turbo and altered software lending the heavier hatchback its advantage. Consequently, it was only a matter of time until someone tweaked the A110’s power and torque curves. German firm RaceChip has done just that, extracting 305hp from the base model on its first try – and excitingly for us, the piggyback solution has just gone on sale in Britain.
The Stage 2 offering (there’s also a lower-powered Stage 1) represents a jump of 53hp over standard and even beats the Megane Trophy – the most potent car so far to use the new four-cylinder engine – by 5hp. It ups the 1,080kg A110 Pure’s power-to-weight from 233hp to 282hp per tonne, which we can all agree is a significant improvement. The higher peak power is joined by a 59lb ft increase in torque, with RaceChip’s electronic control unit (it’s plug and play like the German firm’s other offerings) taking peak twist to 298lb ft.
Crucially, the engineers have also succeeded in retaining near identical power and torque lines for the engine, so the latter peaks from about 2,000rpm and hangs on for most of the rev range, while horsepower builds to a 6,000rpm peak, as it does with the standard settings. This means the RaceChip-fettled A110 should offer the same, naturally-aspirated-mimicking characteristics as the factory’s machine, just with more punch all of the time. That’s important, because Alpine has done such a fantastic job of matching the powertrain to the A110’s fantastic, lightweight chassis that any alterations would have likely detracted from the experience.
To prove the theory on the road, RaceChip has done back-to-back 100-200kmh autobahn runs versus the standard car. RaceChip said its tuned A110 completed the sprint 1.5 seconds quicker than the factory model despite the test being done on one of the hottest days of the year (so inlet temps were far from optimum). But even as a near worst case scenario result, it leaves the £499 upgrade looking like pretty good value for money – especially considering that it also promises a 20 per cent improvement to fuel economy and comes with a two-year engine warranty. If you prefer, there’s a Stage 1 offering that brings an additional 43hp and 49lb ft for £349, but given the modest difference in price we can’t imagine many buyers opting for the halfway house.