The Alpine A110 is powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, the same one found in the Renault Megane R.S., so nothing particularly special. But when it’s been dropped into the back of a 1,102kg sportscar, it’s spectacular. The 252PS (185kW) on tap is plenty and, while the A110 is not overwhelmingly quick, power delivery is satisfyingly smooth and more than enough to propel this car along at a considerable rate. It’s suspended on double wishbone suspension and stopped by 296mm disks front and rear.
Judging on appearances only, the A110 is unmistakeably a sportscar, but there is so much more to this Alpine than that. As a cruiser it’s spot on. Sure, the ride is a touch firm, but never jarringly so. It transmits a feel of the road in a way very little else does. Even on a poor surface it feels as though its feeding you the imperfections to give you a clearer picture of what you're driving on. No matter where or how you’re driving, it’s the perfect balance of comfort and engagement. In many ways, the A110 is the perfect car for a relaxed Sunday afternoon drive in the country. It’s just so wonderfully compliant. Cornering is sublime. It’s so good you don't even really need to concentrate. It will go where you put it, with such extraordinary precision and ease.
If, however, you’re keen to step out of your relaxed comfort zone, the Alpine will gladly acquiesce, but all of the attributes we’ve just mentioned are equally welcome when your start to stretch its legs. Rarely has tackling twisty country lanes at speed felt so enjoyable. The combination of feel, balance and agility offers a sense of telepathy that breeds confidence. You can drive, and drive, and drive this car, and it will never surprise you.
Sport mode tightens everything up an absolute treat. The excellent steering somehow gets even sharper, while some pops and bangs from the exhaust add an extra slice of drama, even if in all honesty they don’t feel at all needed on the A110, it somehow feels a class above boyish gimmicks.
If there were a bone to pick with the driving experience, the transmission can be a bit finnicky, especially in manual mode when you’re transitioning from heavy acceleration to cruising. Automatic mode is generally all you'll ever need unless you really want to use those flappy paddles. It keeps up well with your inputs, especially when you're looking to stretch the performance. It can be a little too keen to kick down when you're accelerating from medium speed, though.