Skip advert
Advertisement
In-depth reviews

Alpine A110 – ride and handling

Alpine follows Lotus’s lead by combining supple ride with agility, with the A110 R ramping things up for the track

Evo rating
Price
from £54,490
  • Nimble, engaging, sophisticated and distinctive, it’s all the sports car we should ever need
  • Ultimate body control at and over the limit can be problematic

That classic set-up of double unequal-length wishbones at each corner and a lightweight aluminium body and frame means the A110 has all the credentials to deliver ride and handling greatness. But even so, the way in which it flows across the ground, ‘breathing’ with the road like only the best cars from Lotus did all those years ago, still comes as a very pleasant surprise.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The steering is light, delicate and accurate, but delivers genuine feel through the rim once you put load into the tyres. You can place the A110 to the nearest millimetre through most bends and have total faith in the front end because the turn-in response is so crisp, without being hyper-reactive. The lightness of the steering is initially a bit of a shock, given weighty set-ups are all the rage in performance cars right now, but the way it wriggles in your hands, gently following the contours of the road, is a refreshing characteristic. The S takes a slightly different route, adding more weight and precision to the steering, whilst reducing body roll for calmer high-speed direction changes. While not in any way worse to drive, it somehow feels a little more generic, like the A110’s unique driving appeal is diluted.

The lower, stiffer, bewinged A110 R is a different animal altogether, with a much higher level of track performance but at the expense of the standard car's playful attitude at the limit. It still makes for a thrilling, tactile and surprisingly absorbant road car, though, as Dickie Meaden found out when we drove the car for the first time. "By tightening its focus and sharpening its dynamics Alpine has elevated the A110 on-road driving experience to a new level," he said. "But if you judge it on its racetrack performance – where it was designed to excel, after all – it is less of an event".

Even so, the R rectifies the base car's lack of fine damping control that sometimes leaves it feeling uneasy at the limit. The problem is exacerbated by the perceived imbalance to the weight distribution, which feels as if the engine is set too high and too far back. Over fast flowing roads the Alpine takes on a subtle diagonal corkscrew motion as the weight of the car seems to fall over onto the outside rear wheel. It’s lovely at eight-tenths, but push on and it feels a bit flightier and less trustworthy.

Stay below this level and the A110 finds a flow down challenging roads like nothing else. Its minimal mass and soft suspension give a typically Gallic feel – you can hustle it, but it prefers to be caressed along, taking the line of least resistance. At the very limit, under heavy braking or some serious speeds, the lack of ultimate body control can get a little white-knuckled, but find a flow just below that point and the Alpine manages the unique trick of both floating just above the surface and being intimately keyed into it at the same time.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

BMW M340i xDrive Touring Fast Fleet test – 6000 miles in the six-cylinder estate
evo Fast Fleet BMW M340i xDrive Touring
Long term tests

BMW M340i xDrive Touring Fast Fleet test – 6000 miles in the six-cylinder estate

The six-cylinder M Performance estate departs the evo Fast Fleet, confirming a renaissance for the everyday BMW
20 May 2024
The Lamborghini Huracán replacement will get a 10,000rpm flat-plane crank V8 
Lamborghini V8 to replace V10
News

The Lamborghini Huracán replacement will get a 10,000rpm flat-plane crank V8 

The iconic Lamborghini V10 is no more, but its upcoming eight-cylinder successor will pack hybrid drive and a 10,000rpm redline
20 May 2024
Toyota GR Supra Fast Fleet test – 11 months in Japan's Porsche Cayman
evo Fast Fleet Toyota Supra
Long term tests

Toyota GR Supra Fast Fleet test – 11 months in Japan's Porsche Cayman

With a 335bhp straight-six and rear-wheel drive, the Supra should be very much our sort of car. But after nearly a year on our fleet, did this prove t…
17 May 2024