The A110’s styling is a triumph of modern ‘retro’ design in a market where recent homages to classics of the 1960s and 1970s have as often as not been bungled or half-baked (see the Fiat 124 Spider).

In addition to providing a clear visual link to that original 1969 model, the A110’s gorgeous exterior panels play a crucial role in achieving a claimed kerb weight of just 1103kg for the car in fully loaded Première Edition specification, rising to 1125kg as verified on MIRA’s scales.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
My theory on national flags as design motifs is that they’re fine – so long as they’re not your own national flag. So a French tricolore on an Alpine, or an Italian one on a Lambo, are both okay.

Along with the chassis, the Alpine’s body is constructed from aluminium, which provides, Alpine engineers say, an ideal balance between rigidity, weight and build quality. The car was designed from a clean sheet with road-appropriate compactness in mind, but also a low centre of gravity and a low roll axis – even by mid-engined sports car standards.

Being lean and riding low, according to Alpine’s philosophy, the A110 can manage without the stiff spring rates and wide tyres that some of its rivals depend on for their dynamism. That means, in theory, it can ride softly and with measure, without compromise to its grip level or handling agility, and it can also have more progressive, communicative handling limits than those rivals. We’ll be the judge of those, in due course.

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Suspension comes in the form of double wishbones all round, the adoption of which was also a key part of the same dynamic philosophy intended to distinguish this car.

Unlike MacPherson strut-type suspension – which you’ll find in, say, a Porsche 718 Cayman – double wishbones allow the suspension to maintain good camber control under load and a consistent tyre contact patch during cornering, even though the car also allows more body roll and greater wheel travel than a sports car typically would.

This, in turn, means the A110 can get away with hollow, lightweight anti-roll bars as opposed to heavy, solid ones that can compromise ride quality.

The car’s biggest departure from the template of its famous predecessor concerns engine layout. Alpine’s new 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is mounted transversely ahead of the rear axle, rather than longways and behind it as the 1969 original A110 carried its engine. It develops 248bhp at 6000rpm and 236lb ft at 2000rpm, which is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch Getrag gearbox.

Although both the engine and gearbox are recognisable from the Renault family supply chain, both are significantly different here from how they are used in any Renault. The engine has its own induction and exhaust systems and its own ECU, and the gearbox uses wet clutches and bespoke ratios.

A 45-litre fuel tank is mounted directly behind the front axle line and, along with that mid-engined layout, contributes to the Alpine’s 44/56 front-to-rear weight distribution. We measured it at 43:57.

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