French aim for Porsche with long-awaited Alpine A110 sports car

Alpine A110
Alpine A110 Alpine A110

RENAULT'S revived sports car subsidiary Alpine has, after a year of teasing and tempting us, finally revealed the production version of its new coupe.

Called the A110 - a nameplate from the marque's past - the new lightweight mid-engined two-seater is aimed squarely at Porsche's 718 Boxster and Cayman with a price tag in the region of £45-50k.

The first cars will reach customers in Europe at the end of the year, with the UK market getting right-hand-drive cars in 2018.

Apart from the styling, which neatly balances retro Alpine styling cues with modern touches, highlights include a bonded, riveted and welded aluminium body and a kerb weight of just over 1 tonne.

Alpine has worked hard at locating the car's mass where it can aid rather than obstruct the A110's handling balance, so the fuel tank is placed behind the front axle and the engine is ahead of the rear axle.

The A110 gets an all-new 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo engine with 249bhp and 236lb.ft of torque, delivering a power-to-weight ratio of 230bhp per tonne and a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds.

The gearbox is a seven-speed double-clutch affair and the driver can set different modes - normal, sport and track - for the engine, gearbox, steering, traction control, exhaust note and dashboard instruments.

An unusual feature of the A110 is its flat floor - "worthy of a race car," says Alpine - to aid its aerodynamics and downforce.

Such is enthusiasts' interest in the new car, that all 1,955 editions of a 'Première Edition' launch special have already been reserved.

"Alpines made such a mark because of the elegance of their designs, their nimble handling and their memorable successes in world class motor racing and rallying," said Alpine’s managing director Michael van der Sande.

Alpine was founded in 1955 by Jean Rédélé, a Dieppe based Renault dealer.

He successfully raced and rallied Renault models in the early 1950s and soon started manufacturing his own sports cars.

Glassfibre bodywork, rear-mounted engines, rear-wheel-drive and a stiff 'backbone' chassis became Alpine hallmarks.

Alpine was always closely associated with Renault, and it bought the company in 1973. Alpine won the first World Rally Championship in 1973 with the A110 - that car's styling is a heavy influence on the new model - and also won the Le Man 24 hours race in 1978.

The last Alpine was the A610 sports coupe, with production ending in 1995 as Renault focused its performance car efforts on its acclaimed RenaultSport Clio and Megane models.

Alpine A110
Alpine A110 Alpine A110