Established in 1955 before being acquired by Renault in 1973, the philosophy of Alpine has remained the same – innovative, lightweight designs that can take on any road, and race.
Alpine cars have been highly successful in motorsports, notably endurance racing and rallying.
The first Alpine, the A106, claimed a few victories in the Mille Miglia rallies in the 1950s. After that, Alpine shifted its focus to the 24 Hour of Le Mans – the most famous endurance event of them all.
In 1966, the A210 took the top three places in the Index of Thermal Efficiency category. In 1978, which was the 46th edition of the race, an Alpine A442B took overall victory after more than 5000km of hard racing.
Still, the most celebrated victory in Alpine’s storied history in motor racing involves the original A110 Berlinette – the inspiration behind today’s A110 sports car.
At the 1973 Rally of Monte-Carlo, an-all French crew won the event by 26 seconds. Later that year, the A110 took home the first-ever World Rally Championship.
The Alpine A110 Pure is, as the company puts it, is in its simplest and lightest form.
Alpine could not be more spot-on with its description. Tipping the scales at just a smidgen over a tonne, the A110 Pure is the automobile equivalent of a ballet dancer.
To make it this feathery, innovative and creative touches are in abundance. The body structure is made from aluminium, bonded, and riveted for extra strength. Lightweight aluminium is used for the suspension components and each one-piece Sabelt sports seat weighs just 14.1 kg.
In fact, Alpine was so obsessed with saving weight that even the wiper system was modified. Instead of conventional nozzles, the fluid is expelled via the blades. This meant a smaller 1.5-litre reservoir could be used.
Propelling the A110 Pure is a turbocharged 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine that has been tuned for sharp throttle response and maximum torque (320Nm) across a wide rev band.
With 252PS on tap, the power-to-weight ratio of 229PS per tonne is highly impressive. The zero to 100 km/h sprint is demolished in 4.5 seconds while in-gear acceleration is scintillating – 80 to 120km/h takes just 2.6 seconds.
Delivering power to the rear wheels is a dual-clutch gearbox complemented by aluminium paddle shifters behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The A110 Pure is bereft of fanciful electronic dampers or limited-slip differentials.
The mid-engine layout, coupled with its 44:56 weight distribution, extremely well sorted chassis and double-wishbone suspension, enable it to happily traverse all kinds of asphalt while soaking up surface imperfections with exceptional poise.
Taking a corner at speed has never been so fun. It feels so planted and grip is plentiful, and the steering is also incredibly communicative, always letting you know how the tyres are doing.
If you like to “tune” the way the A110 Pure drives, the Mode Selector function offers Normal, Sport or Track which alters throttle response, steering assistance, gearshift speed, exhaust sound and ESC level.
When it comes time to haul the car down from speed, powerful Brembo brakes provide instantaneous stopping performance.
A110 LEGENDE AND A110S
Sitting alongside the Alpine A110 Pure are two variants – A110 Legende and A110S.
The Legende features the same performance as the Pure but it has been designed for grand touring and everyday usability. Six-way adjustable comfort seats upholstered in black or brown leather, unique 18-inch diamond-turned alloy wheels and high-gloss carbon fibre trim are just some of the highlights of this special A110.
Sporting the fabled “S” in its name, the A110S is Alpine’s ultimate sports car. A new Sports chassis with 50 percent stiffer springs and wider tyres endow it with superb handling.
Meanwhile, the uprated engine, which produces 292PS (40PS more than the Pure), shaves the 0 to 100 km/h time by 0.1 second (to 4.4 seconds).
Unique styling elements such as black alloy wheels, carbon flags emblems, orange brake callipers and Dinamica upholstery mirror the A110S’ purposeful character.
With this lineup of compellingly quick and nimble A110 models, it’s no wonder than Alpine stands at the top of the sports car summit.