The A110’s 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine isn’t like most of the motors that owners of compact sports cars may be used to.
It doesn’t have the operating range and linearity of response of a Porsche’s flat four, the building crescendo and crackling sonic drama of a Lotus’s supercharged straight four, or the combustive richness of a multi-cylinder BMW or Audi.
But it does have character – and plenty of it.
Pace, too: thanks to the car’s lightness, it makes for a performance level that bears comparison with a greater number of more powerful rivals than you might imagine. Most alike to the turbocharged four-pot to be found between the axles of a 4C, the Alpine’s engine sounds waspish and whooshing.
The 236lb ft of torque it makes feels like plenty when it fronts up, in responsive fashion even to moderate pedal inputs, from just 2000rpm. From there on out all the way to the engine’s 7000rpm redline, the A110 revs keenly, nicely avoiding the marked deterioration in flexibility you’re expecting of a motor that passes peak power with 1000rpm of the rev range still to go.
There’s a metallic, gravelly quality to its tonal performance that isn’t exactly music to the ears but, overlaid with the fizzing and hissing of the car’s turbo, it remains an energetic-sounding audible treat.