Alpine Renault – The Magnificent French beauties

Alpine Renault – The Magnificent French beauties

Renault Alpine A110
Renault Alpine A110

The Societe des Automobiles Alpine SAS, commonly known as the Alpine is a French high-performance car manufacturer best known for its blue racing machines that went on to dominate many rally stages in Europe.

Alpine doesn’t have much of a brand presence in many parts of the world.

However, across the Channel, the Alpine Renault has a big presence. Alpine Renault got an illustrious brand presence for nearly five decades.

The inception of the Alpine brand is an interesting story.

The Alpine story began in Dieppe in the early 1950s when France was still struggling with the aftermath of World War II and the destruction it brought to their country. Despite the hardships, the French men and women worked hard to improve their economic condition.

During these troubled times, a young Renault dealer and a garage proprietor in Dieppe had developed some serious performance modification for the Renault 4CV and used this very car to win some serious rally tournaments including Mille Miglia and Coupe des Alpes.

This man is not an ordinary man either. His name was Jean Rédélé and he was the youngest Renault dealer in France at the time. Like many French teenagers and youth at the time, his mind was filled with French pride, but unlike many others who considered automobiles as something utilitarian, he loved cars and he wanted something made in France but with better performance and look.

As his experience with the 4CV increased with time, he gave it some serious modifications such as replacing the standard three-speed transmission with a special five-speed gearbox.

Jean Rédélé and Louis Pons raced their 4CV to win Rallye Monte Carlo in 1950 and again in 1951. They came close to winning both races.

In 1952, after failing to convince local coachbuilders to build him something special, he commissioned Carrozzeria Allemano to construct a Giovanni Michelotti-styled aluminum-bodied coupe on the 4CV chassis and drive train.

He then went on to achieve a class win on the 1952 Mille Miglia, and again in 1953 and 1954.

The post-war French society was still struggling to overcome the economic hardships and almost everything that they mass-produced was basic and utilitarian, and automobiles at the time showed that.

However, with the Jean Rédélé’s  Mille Miglia and Rallye Monte Carlo wins, French society warmed towards the idea of manufacturing high-performance cars to show the Germans and Italians that they could.

Create serious performance cars that are capable of beating all the German and Italian high-performance cars.

Encouraged by the recent victories and the reception and admiration his car got from the locals as well as the consequent customer demand for these custom-made high-performance cars, he decided to create a car-building company in his garage at Dieppe.

The new company was registered as Alpine in 1954. “Alpine” brand name was a reference to his Coupe des Alpes victory. However, unknown to Jean Rédélé at the time, an English motor company called Sunbeam released a new car called Sunbeam Alpine, a sports coupe derived from the Sunbeam-Talbot in the previous year. 

This brand name issue caused problems for Alpine throughout its history.

Alpine A106

In 1955, he worked with the Chappe brothers to construct a lightweight coupe built upon the 4CV mechanical components. Chappe brothers and Jean  Rédélé ended up constructing a small coupe with a tubular backbone chassis and fiberglass bodywork, to be among the pioneers of automotive fiberglass body construction. 

Alpine A106
Alpine A106

It was known as the Alpine A106. The Alpine A106 achieved a number of victories through the 1950s and was followed by a stylish cabriolet version of it.

The Alpine A106 cabriolet was designed by the Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti. Under the fiberglass body was a strong chassis based on a central tubular backbone construction.

Alpine-Renault A106 Cabriolet and A108 Berlinette
Alpine-Renault A106 Cabriolet and A108 Berlinette

The tubular backbone structure and fiberglass body eventually became the hallmark of all original Alpines.

Alpine Renault A106 Mille Miles 1
Alpine Renault A106 Mille Miles 1
Alpine Renault A106 Mille Miles
Alpine Renault A106 Mille Miles
1956 Mille Miglia Alpine A106 win
1956 Mille Miglia Alpine A106 win
1956 Mille Miglia Alpine A106 win
1956 Mille Miglia Alpine A106 win
1957 Alpine A106 Coach Mille Miles
1957 Alpine A106 Coach Mille Miles

The Alpine A106 leads to the development of the Alpine A108, a Renault Dauphine-based high-performance car.

Alpine A108

In 1961, Alpine Renault unveiled a Berlinetta variant of the A108. This was the result of Alpine’s attempt to create a closed body four-seat coupe of the Michelotti-designed A106 cabriolet.

Alpine A108
Alpine A108
Alpine A108 rear
Alpine A108 rear

The A108 Berlinetta featured a tubular steel backbone chassis designed by Jean Rédélé and his cousin Roger Prieur. The styling and performance excellent and futuristic at the time. This little Berlinetta ended up directing Alpine Renault on a clear route towards excellence both in terms of styling and performance.

1960 Alpine A108 Coupe Sport
1960 Alpine A108 Coupe Sport

Alpine A108 featured a Dauphine Gordini 845cc engine and a 998cc engine subsequently. This car was a fastback with a fiberglass body.

1960 Alpine A108 Cabriolet Sport
1960 Alpine A108 Cabriolet Sport

In 1962, Alpine A108 began production in Brazil, by Willys Overland, who got a license to build it from the Alpine. This car was named Willys Interlagos and came with Berlinetta, coupe, and convertible variants just like the original car.

By now the car’s mechanical components were significantly outdated and Alpine was closely working with Renault to get their hands on the mechanical components.

The A106 was built from 1958 to 1963.

When Renault unveiled the Renault R8 saloon in 1962, Alpine redesigned and redeveloped the tubular steel backbone structure and made minor body changes to fit the R8 mechanicals. 

Alpine A110

In 1963, the A108 Berlinetta was replaced with the newly developed R8 powered car, the Alpine A110 Tour de France.

1970 Alpine Renault A110 1600 Berlinette
1970 Alpine Renault A110 1600 Berlinette

The Alpine A110 Berlinetta Tour de France was named after the Alpine A108 that successfully ran in the 1962 Tour de France event.

Like its predecessors, the A110 was offered in different body variants. The Alpine A110 was offered as a Cabriolet, a four-seat Coupe, and Berlinetta.

1970 Alpine Renault A110 Berlinette V85 1800
1970 Alpine Renault A110 Berlinette V85 1800
Alpine A110 cabriolet
Alpine A110 cabriolet

The A110 Berlinette was the most produced as it defined the best that Alpine could offer and more importantly it defined what Jean Rédélé has always wanted to create, a worthy successor to the original car he raced to win Mille Miglia in 1952, 1953, and 1954.

The body was neatly proportioned to the chassis and shell to improve weight distribution. Alpine Renault also passed on the Renault Dauphine mechanical components used in the A108 and chose the engine and transmission and mechanical components of Renault R8 for the A110.

The A110, therefore, gained a double-wishbone suspension in the front, swing arms in the rear. It also got disc brakes on all four wheels.

The engine options were varying from a base 956cc R8 engine producing only 55bhp to a 1565cc twin Weber engine delivering 180 horsepower from a 16TS.

The engine was then mounted behind a five-speed manual R12 Gordini gearbox.

The whole car came with a curb weight of just 545kg or 1200lb.

The 180-horsepower competition version weighed only 620kg or 1367lb.

Alpine Renault A110 V85 (1970)
Alpine Renault A110 V85 (1970)
Alpine Renault A110 V85 (1970)
Alpine Renault A110 V85 (1970)
1971 Alpine Renault A110 1600VB
1971 Alpine Renault A110 1600VB
Alpine Renault A110 1973 (2)
Alpine Renault A110 1973 (2)
Alpine Renault A110 1973 (3)
Alpine Renault A110 1973 (3)
Alpine Renault A110 berlinette 1300 rear
Alpine Renault A110 berlinette 1300 rear
Alpine Renault A110 berlinette 1300
Alpine Renault A110 berlinette 1300
Alpine Renault a110 berlinette 1600 SX rear
Alpine Renault a110 berlinette 1600 SX rear
Alpine Renault a110 berlinette 1600 SX
Alpine Renault a110 berlinette 1600 SX
Alpine Renault A110 Berlinette engine
Alpine Renault A110 Berlinette engine

The A110 Berlinetta offered a good power to weight ratio due to this and ensured excellent all-around performance. The handling and cornering prowess were secondary to none. It offered a good amount of traction as well.

The low center of gravity, less weight, and short suspension travel gifted the car with unrivaled performance on the road as well as on the rally stages.

Due to these amazing advantages, the A110 began scoring some serious competition wins, and eventually ended up convincing the Alpine Renault to race it for the next eight years to come. The A110 was a successful road car as well as a track-focused machine.

By 1968, the entire Renault competition budget had been allocated to the Alpine A110 racing team. In the same year, it won in Coupe des Alpes and other international events.

1971 Alpine Renault A110
1971 Alpine Renault A110
1973 Rallye Sanremo Alpine-Renault A110 1800
1973 Rallye Sanremo Alpine-Renault A110 1800
Alpine A110 rally car
Alpine A110 rally car
Alpine Renault A110 1800 Rallye 4
Alpine Renault A110 1800 Rallye 4
Alpine Renault A110 1800 Rallye 4
Alpine Renault A110 1800 Rallye 4

By this time the competition cars were fitted with Renault R8 Gordini derived 1440cc engines.

Alpine A100 Berlinette was successful economically and Alpine was the first company to fully exploit the competition parts homologation rules, decided to build a new assembly plant in Dieppe.

Within its eight-year-long racing career, A110 lead the Alpine Renault to win the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places on the 1971 Ralley Monte Carlo using cars powered with Renault 16 derived engines. In 1973, Alpine A110 1800 again repeated the same feat again.

In 1973, Alpine A110 1800 won the World Rally Championship beating the likes of Porsche, Lancia, and Ford.

The Alpine A110 cars dominating the rally stages, road, and going sideways in the snow soon became emblematic just like the Eifel Tower for the French people.

Due to the higher demand, Alpine made deals with manufacturers to build Alpine A110 and Alpine108 cars in factories in many countries including Brazil, Mexico, Bulgaria, and Spain.

1978 Willys Interlagos
1978 Willys Interlagos

The success Alpine A110 had in its eight-year-long racing career, influenced companies like Matra and in later years the Venturi to manufacture competition-focused sports cars.

The Matra dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the early 1970s beating competition from legendary car companies like the Porsche, Ferrari, and Mercedes Benz.

Alpine A310

The success of Alpine A110, influenced the Alpine to produce a new model, the A310 which was unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Motor show. Development of the A310 began in 1968. Jean Rédélé had made the decision to upmarket this car further to make more profit. In other words, he wanted this new car to compete against the German Porsche 911 and Ferrari cars.

1972 Alpine Renault A310
1972 Alpine Renault A310
1972 Alpine Renault A310 1
1972 Alpine Renault A310 1

In 1972, a modified A110 won the Critérium des Cévennes to become the first company to run and win an international rally with a turbocharged car.

The Alpine A310 was not a direct replacement for the A110. The venerable A110 was offered alongside the A310 until 1977. 

The A310, developed to be a worthy rival to the already proven Porsche 911, followed the established Alpine development methodologies such as a tubular steel backbone and fiberglass body.

A Renault 17 derived Douvrin V6 power plant was then chosen to power the car. This four-cylinder engine was then mounted behind the Gordini transaxle used in the A110.

The double-wishbone rear suspension setup was revised to offer a more refined ride quality without taking away the A110 Berlinette’s handling prowess. This revised rear suspension setup was also used to produce the A110 from 1973 to 1977.

Alpine Renault A310
Alpine Renault A310
Alpine Renault A310 front
Alpine Renault A310 front

The A310 featured an aggressive angular 1970’s body style instead of the aerodynamically curved 1960s body style which was already getting outdated.

The aerodynamic tweaks given to the car by Marcel Hurbert proved to be very successful and neat as he had paid much attention and time to detail and to add some neat touches here and there. The distinctive front fascia with six Cibile headlamps installed behind angled glass covers to improve aerodynamic drag. The way the lamps were installed closely resembled the Citroen SM.

It was powered with a four-cylinder 1.6-liter Renault 17 Gordini engine.

It was intended to be a high-end track-focused racing machine that is also suitable for comfortable day-to-day driving. It had the looks to convince anyone that it would be capable of dominating the rally stages and track as the A110 did, but it didn’t.

Alpine A310 won third place on the Tour de Corse in 1974 and again in 1976.

It also won the French Rally Championship title in 1977.

When the 1973 international petrol crisis occurred, it had its adverse effects on many specialist high-performance car manufacturers around the world. Most notably the American Muscle cars and many European sports car manufacturers. Total Alpine production in 1972 was 1421 and sales fell gradually to a level that in 1974, Alpine sold only 957 cars for the entire year.

To bail out the company, Renault increased its stake on the Alpine to 55% controlling stake in 1973. The Alpine became the performance division of Renault.

The A110 was famous for its cornering prowess, but the A310 cornered less impressively and it wasn’t handling well enough when considering the rivals, it faced in the Grand Touring class vehicle market that they were targeting.

The A310 didn’t offer enough power to rival the GT class supercars, so it couldn’t perform as well as the Porsche 911 did.

Renault Alpine A310 V6
Renault Alpine A310 V6

It didn’t offer much luggage space either, making it a little impractical for day-to-day driving.

The Alpine A310 was a huge disappointment for such an accomplished racing brand.

The disadvantages of the A310 were one of the main reasons for the Alpine to choose the venerable A110 over it for competition.

Other European manufactures were building many specialized cars to compete with the Alpine. Most notably the Lancia Stratos, which was roughly the same size as an Alpine A110 and also shared the same rear-engine concept. Lancia Stratos was powered with a 2.4-liter Dino V6 engine and later the 12-valve overhead and 24-valve overhead cam modifications increased its power further. Soon, the Lancia Stratos was dominating both the rally stages and road alike.

The Alpine A110 was still based on the original 1962 design and the mechanical components it used derived from Renault cars were becoming increasingly uncompetitive.

In 1974, Alpine built a series of factory racing Renault 17 Gordini cars, and a car driven by Jean Luc Thérier won the Press on Regardless World Rally Championship in Detroit, US.

Renault 17 Gordini front
Renault 17 Gordini front
Renault 17 Gordini
Renault 17 Gordini

The Alpine under the leadership of Renault focused much on the 24 hours of Le Mans. Renault has taken over the Gordini tuning firm and it then merged with the Alpine competition department to become Renault Sport in 1976.

In 1976, at the Paris Auto show, Alpine Renault introduced the revised Alpine A310, featuring a more common four headlamp front fascia and a unique rear spoiler to improve downforce.

1977 Alpine Renault A310 1
1977 Alpine Renault A310 1
1977 Alpine Renault A310
1977 Alpine Renault A310

The new 2.6-liter Douvrin V6 power plant was mated to a combination of one single and one twin-choke Solex carburetor, delivering a total of 150bhp and 151 lb-ft of torque.

Though this doesn’t sound much, this increased power output was enough to propel the lightweight coupe fast enough to achieve 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds. The top speed was an impressive 140mph.

To improve durability and reliability, the R12 gearbox was replaced with a more reliable and durable R30 four-speed transmission system. However, the R12 five-speed manual was available again in 1980.

The Alpine A310 Group 4 variant got three twin-barrel Weber carburetors mated to the Douvrin v6 to provide even more power.

1977 Alpine Renault A310 V6 front
1977 Alpine Renault A310 V6 front
1977 Alpine Renault A310 V6 engine
1977 Alpine Renault A310 V6 engine
1977 Alpine Renault A310 V6
1977 Alpine Renault A310 V6

This car ended up being a worthy rival to the already proven Porsche 911.

In 1978, a turbocharged Renault Alpine A44 sports prototype car won the Le Mans.

The Douvrin V6 powered Alpine A310 remained in production until 1984.

The Alpine factory in Dieppe was expanded to accommodate higher production output and in the 1980s they built special R5 Turbo cars, using the rear engine methodology they have always used.

Renault 5 Alpine Turbo front
Renault 5 Alpine Turbo front
Renault 5 Alpine Turbo logo
Renault 5 Alpine Turbo logo
Renault 5 Alpine Turbo
Renault 5 Alpine Turbo

In 1983 Renault launched the Clio Williams version as a limited edition. Alpine Dieppe factory built all the Renault Clio Williams cars as a limited production run. Only 3800 cars were made. Each car came with a numbered plaque on the dashboard.

Renault decided to build Renault Clio Williams 2 and 3 cars in the Dieppe factory with more than 12000 cars being built eventually.

Renault Alpine GTA

In 1984, at the Geneva Auto show, a new replacement was unveiled. The GTA was paying tribute to the Alpine design language but it was much longer, wider, and taller than the A110 and A310 cars.

1988 Renault Alpine GTA
1988 Renault Alpine GTA
Renault Alpine GTA rear
Renault Alpine GTA rear
Renault Alpine GTA
Renault Alpine GTA

The aerodynamic body lines and tweaks made it the most aerodynamically efficient production car at the time with a Cd measure of just 0.28. The body panels were made out of polyester and plastic components.

The Alpine GTA also retained the tubular steel backbone chassis and the fiberglass body construction just like its predecessors did, but notable differences were the reduced thickness of the steel and the increased strength of the fiberglass shell.

Alpine GTA offered four times the rigidity of an average family hatchback of its time.

A removable sub-frame was then used to house the V6 engine. This V6 engine delivered 160bhp.

From the fall of 1984, a 200bhp turbocharged engine option was also available.

1986 ALPINE-RENAULT V6 GT TURBO
1986 ALPINE-RENAULT V6 GT TURBO

This car was faster than the naturally aspirated V6 powered car.

In 1986, the polyester parts were cut for the first time by a robot using a high-pressure water et. The 3500-bar pressure water jet was 0.01 inch in diameter and had a speed of three times the speed of sound.

In 1986, the American spec V6 turbo was also developed.

The Alpine GTA was more of a road car than it was a racer. It was engineered with everyday practicality in mind. It offered better accessibility, creature comforts, enough luggage space, and maneuverability than its predecessors.

The remote central locking feature, electronic door handles, features were only present in most high-end automobiles at the time and Alpine GTA came with those features.     

A hi-fi sound system with equalizers and sound synthesizers also came as standard, one of the most advanced sound systems a car was ever equipped with at the time.

alpine-renualt-a310-steering-wheel
alpine-Renault-a310-steering-wheel
alpine-renualt-a310-interior
alpine-Renault-a310-interior

The public reception and press reviews were in favor of the Alpine Renault. The creature comforts, advanced electronics, refined interior, and ride quality were highly praised.

The handling and cornering prowess of the car were considered excellent.

In 1987, an installation of anti-pollution systems allowed the V6 turbo-powered GTA to be distributed to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Netherlands.

In 1989, Alpine launched a limited edition GTA Mille Miles to celebrate the Alpine’s 35th anniversary. The GTA Mille Miles production was limited to just 100 cars and all came with an ABS braking system, polished wheels, special leather interior finish, and paintwork as standard. This version wasn’t available in the right-hand market. 

The Alpine GTA was in every way a worthy competitor against much established Porsche. It was also the first Alpine Renault sports car to be offered in the United Kingdom. It was marketed from 1986 to 1992 and was available from Renault dealers in the UK. 

Only 582 right-hand drive Alpine GTA cars were ever made and most of these right-hand drive cars ended up being sold in Great Britain and its former colonies. But those sales figures were not enough to make any profit.

And most of these right-hand-drive GTA cars were neglected and abused after depreciation of value due to poor brand presence and lack of spare parts.  Due to these factors, it is one of the rarest classics on the UK roads right now.

Many of the United Kingdom automotive journalists have praised the car much and some consider it as the greatest supercar of the late 1980s.

In 1990, a facelift GTA variant called the Special Edition GTA Le Mans, a wide-bodied coupe was unveiled.

alpine renualt a310 Le Mans
alpine renualt a310 Le Mans

This race car came with further improved aerodynamics. The mechanical components were almost identical to the V6 turbo spec car, but the engine came fitted with a catalytic converter and power output was reduced to 185 horsepower. This special limited edition GTA was available in the UK and the right-hand drive variants came with a numbered plaque on the dashboard. Only a total of 325 GTA Le Mans were made and 299 were left-hand-drive cars while 26 were right-hand drive.

Due to the exclusivity, the GTA Le Mans is one of the most desired and most expensive GTA derivatives.

Alpine Renault A610

In 1991, the car was completely redesigned and developed to become the Alpine A610.

1993 Alpine Renault A610 front
1993 Alpine Renault A610 front
1993 Alpine Renault A610
1993 Alpine Renault A610

Alpine A610 was re-designed inside and out but still, it was easily recognizable as a GTA derivative. The Chassis structure was extensively reengineered to improve structural rigidity, but the central box ideology of the A310 still remained largely unchanged.

The front of the car was completely redesigned and the interior was vastly improved. Air conditioning and power steering came fitted as standard.

The Alpine A610 came with a 3-liter V6 engine delivering 250bhp. It was capable of achieving a top speed of 160mph.

1992 Alpine A610 Turbo 3.0
1992 Alpine A610 Turbo 3.0

Between 1989 and 1995, a new Alpine model called the Alpine A710 Berlinette 2 was designed and two prototypes were made. But the cost of the project and the further cost when it comes to including modern safety equipment and creature comforts made the prototype car too heavy would compromise the performance. It was eventually canceled and never made it to the production.

The total production run of Alpine A610 cars was only 818. Only 67 out of these were right-hand drive. The production of Alpine models ceased in 1995 due to poor demand and financial losses.

Alpine A610 was the last model to bear the Alpine brand name for a long time to come. The last Alpine A610 rolled off the Dieppe production line on the 7th of April, 1995.

The Alpine brand name issue caused a lot of problems in the UK market. In the UK market, Alpine cars could not be sold under their own brand name due to a trademark issue. In 1953, Sunbeam company made a cabriolet version of its Sunbeam Talbot car and marketed it as the Sunbeam Alpine. In 1954, without knowing any of this, Jean Rédélé chose the name Alpine as his motor company’s name as a reference to his Coupe des Alpes victory. In UK market Alpine trademark belonged to Sunbeam motors, so Alpine had to sell their cars in different names. For example, when Dieppe was manufacturing R5 turbo cars, they were marketed in the rest of the world as Renault R5 Alpine but in the UK, they were branded as Renault R5 Gordini.

After many takeovers of the Sunbeam company, now the owner of the British Alpine brand name is PSA Peugeot Citroen.   

The aftermath of the discontinuation of Alpine A610.

After the production of Alpine A610 ended, the Alpine brand was abandoned by Renault, and the Dieppe factory has begun to produce the Renault Sport Spider starting a new era. The Renault Spider was produced from 1996 to 1999. It was a two-door roadster powered with a 2000cc 16 valve inline-four engine with a power output of 148 horsepower which was enough to propel the 854kg car to achieve 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 251kmph.

2006-Renault-Spider-Jarama
2006-Renault-Spider-Jarama

The Dieppe factory produces all the Renault Sport models that are sold worldwide, including Renault Sport Clio 172, Renault Sport Clio 182, Renault Sport Megane.  

Renault Alpine A110 concept 

In 2007, Patrick Blain, then head of marketing of Renault, revealed that there are plans to build several high-performance cars and further told that Renault was likely to brand them as Alpine rather than picking a new name. The Alpine sports cars were to be based on the Premium Midship platform used in the Nissan GTR. But, due to the financial crisis of 2009, they pushed back the plans indefinitely.

In May 2012, a new concept called Renault Alpine A110-50 was unveiled in Monaco. Its styling was based on the Renault DeZir, an all-electric concept car unveiled in 2010.

Renault Dezir concept
Renault Dezir concept
Renault Dezir concept rear
Renault Dezir concept rear
Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept
Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept
Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept rear
Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept rear
Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept front
Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept front

In November 2012, Caterham Cars of Britain then purchased a 50% stake of Renault’s wholly-owned Société des Automobiles Alpine to create a joint venture to develop affordable sports cars to produce them under their respective brand names.

However, in 2014, Renault bought back 50% of the stakes from Caterham Cars and renamed the company Société des Automobiles Alpine.

In 2015, two Alpine concepts were introduced. The Alpine Celebration and the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo. In 2016, they unveiled the Alpine Vision concept at an event held in Monaco.

2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept
2016 Alpine vision concept

Alpine A110

The Alpine marque was resurrected in 2017 with the introduction of the new Alpine A110. The new Alpine A110 was styled after the original A110.

2018 Alpine A110 front
2018 Alpine A110 front

It was evident that the new Alpine A110 was Renault’s answer to the likes of Audi TT, Porsche Cayman, and the Alfa Romeo 4C.

The new Alpine A110 is a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car and is powered with a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four engine.

The engine is mounted behind the passenger seats and drives the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic Getrag gearbox.

2018 Alpine A110 rear
2018 Alpine A110 rear

The Renault Nissan-derived engine was reworked by the Alpine engineers to increase performance.

The total performance output of the car is 249 horsepower at 6000rpm and 236 lb-ft of torque at 2000-5000rpm. The car weighs only 1103kgs.

The Alpine A110 is capable of achieving 0-60mph in just 4.5 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

It is available in Pure, Premiere, and Legende trims.

The Pure trim came with 17-inch alloy wheels.

2018 Alpine A110 interior
2018 Alpine A110 interior

The Premier cars were the launch edition cars with a limited production of 1955. These cars came with forged Fuchs alloy wheels, quilted Sabelt leather bucket seats, active sports exhaust, a Focal audio system, and a reverse camera as standard. All the Premier cars were finished in a metallic blue color known as the Alpine Blue, black or white. The Premiere trim came with a price tag of 51,805 Euro.

2018 Alpine A110 front fascia
2018 Alpine A110 front fascia
2018 Alpine A110 Premiere Edition 1.8 front
2018 Alpine A110 Premiere Edition 1.8 front
2018 Alpine A110 Premiere Edition 1.8
2018 Alpine A110 Premiere Edition 1.8

The Legende trim came with unique alloy wheels, six-way adjustable sports seats, black or brown leather interior upholstery, and an upgraded hi-fi sound system.

All the Alpine A110 cars are powered with the same power plant and same gearbox despite the trim differences.

In October 2017, the Alpine A100 cup was revealed. The track-only Alpine A100 cup variant comes with the same chassis as the road car but comes with a roll cage, adjustable suspension, and racing performance brakes installed as standard.

The power output of the Alpine A110 Cup is 270 horsepower delivered through the same 1.8-liter inline-four engine which is mated to a bespoke racing sequential gearbox.

It also comes with Michelin racing tires.

This A110 variant was specifically designed for the new Alpine Elf Europa Cub series that was held in six tracks in Europe. The limited production run was limited to just 20 cars. The price of a car was 100,000 Euro, making it the most expensive A110 variant ever.

At the 2018 Geneva Auto Show, a new GT4 variant of the Alpine A110 Cup was unveiled. This car comes with more power as well as aerodynamic tweaks such as the aggressive front splitter and the large rear wing to improve aero drag.

Alpine a110 GT4
Alpine a110 GT4
Alpine a110 GT4 front fascia
Alpine a110 GT4 front fascia
Alpine a110 GT4 front
Alpine a110 GT4 front
Alpine a110 GT4 rear
Alpine a110 GT4 rear

The owners of the Alpine A110 Cup cars were allowed to upgrade their cars to the GT4 variant for free of charge. 

In June 2019, Alpine A110S, a lightweight high-performance variant of the A110 was unveiled.

2019 Alpine A110 S 1.8
2019 Alpine A110 S 1.8

The Alpine A110S variant comes with the same engine and gearbox as the A110 does, but due to being turbocharged, the power output is 288 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The peak power output can be achieved at 400rpm higher than the standard engine. The 7-speed dual-clutch Getrag transmission is unchanged.

It comes with stiffer springs and race-tuned suspension, new anti-roll bars to improve body roll, dampers, and carbon-ceramic disc brakes on all four wheels, and lowered suspension (4mm) to improve handling and cornering. The new anti-roll bars are 100 percent stiffer than the standard car and the new springs are 50 percent stiffer than the standard car.

Aesthetic changes are orange brake calipers, French flag motifs, and an optional matte grey paintwork, and lightweight Fuchs alloy wheels. 

 The weight of the car is 1114kg. This is due to the use of aluminum chassis, and aluminum body panels. In other words, Alpine A110 is lightweight just like a Lotus or 200kg to 300 kg lesser than a similarly priced Audi TT or Porsche Cayman.  

To save weight now the rear wheels do not come with a secondary brake caliper for the electric parking brake and it is now integrated into the primary brake system, thus saving 2.5kg in the process.

Alpine has got Brembo to integrate their software into the Bosche Ecu rather than installing a separate control unit and dedicated wiring, saving 1kg of weight. Even the brackets that hold EPB cables and hoses are aluminum.

The Sabelt seats are just 13 of weight and the seats are integrating the ball joint into the upper control arm instead of putting it in a separate housing thus saving 300g per corner. This is an option in A110 but standard in the A110S.

It is evident that even after the 22 years that passed after the production of Alpine A610 stopped, they are still using the Colin Chapman principle.

The Collin Chapman principle is that having a low mass avoids the problem of needing higher amounts of power. Having moderate power to propel the car can avoid problems like the need for super-wide tires or a big heavy brake system and complicated radiator solutions. This is the same principle practiced by Jean Redele.

The weight distribution is 44:56 and 56% of the weight is in the back due to the rear mid-engine construction.

The A110S can achieve 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

In 2018, James “Captain Slow” May mentioned the fact that he owns an Alpine A110 in one of his DriveTribe YouTube channel videos. According to James May, the Alpine A110 is the best thing to come out of France since the Mouli cheese grater. However, he pointed out that he bought the car because he was pleased with the handling and even went further to mention it as the best handling car he has ever driven. However, in another video, he mentioned that he doesn’t like the retro looks as a new design would be far better than sticking to the past. He named the Alpine A110 as the 2018 car of the year.

Gordon Murray, the celebrated engineer and automotive designer behind the McLaren F1 supercar, mentioned in several media interviews that he is driving around an Alpine A110 car as his daily driven car. He also told the interviewers that he used the handling of Alpine A110 as the benchmark for his T50 Supercar.

In 2019, the A110 became the runner-up for the European Car of the Year. It received the same number of points as the Jaguar I Pace did but got fewer first-place votes, making the I Pace final winner.   

For the 2020 model year, the car wasn’t changed much. It is also powered with the same 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and delivers from 249 horsepower to 288 horsepower depending on the trim level. Both A110 and A110S come with a torque of 236 lb-ft. The available transmission unit is a seven-speed Getrag double-clutch gearbox. The Pure trim comes with a base price of 47,545 Euro and goes up to 51,545 Euro with the options.

The A110 Legende is priced at 51,000 Euro and the A110S comes with a price tag of 57,000 Euro. The direct contenders for the Alpine A110 are the Porsche Cayman, Audi TT, and Alfa Romeo 4C. Base Porsche Cayman comes with a price tag of 59,000 euro. The Audi TT is priced at 45,550. The base Alfa Romeo 4C comes with a 57,211-euro price tag.

0-60mph is achieved in the lower four seconds.

In comparison, the Porsche Cayman is delivering 295 horsepower and has a weight of 1410kg, and achieves 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds. Alpine A110 with a weight of just 1103kg and a power output of 249 horsepower can achieve 0-60mph in the lower 4 seconds.

Alpine A110 has the power to weight ratio of 226hp/tonne and the Cayman with 210hp/tonne.

Fuel economy is rated at 37 to 42mpg which is astonishing as many hot hatches are having less fuel efficiency. Co2 emission is just 138gs per kilometer. This is especially good news with the ever-increasing fuel prices and environmental impact it causes on a global scale.

Just like the Porsche Cayman, the Alpine A110 has a storage boot in the front, and back. A 100-liter boot in the front and a 96-liter boot in the rear is are spacious enough to store a couple of carry-on bags and few shopping bags.

The interior fit and finish are praised by the automotive journalists due to the high-quality materials used to produce the interior and the lightweight but comfortable fixed Sabelt seats.

The center console bridge features a pouch for your phone as well as the gear change buttons and a USB socket to connect a mass storage device or to charge your mobile phone. The infotainment system is derived from the Suzuki Jimny, which is not the cutting edge by any means.

Alpine A110 pays tribute to the original A110, and just like the original A110, the new one is lightweight, comes with modest power, and doesn’t rely on bigger heavy-duty brakes or bigger wheels. It offers superb handling and entry-level supercar performance with achieving 0-60mpg in the lower 4 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.

The Alpine A110 is all about how to build a proper sports car while keeping the cost down without losing the fundamental values of a high-performance car.

The Alpine company recently announced that they will develop fully electric cars in the near future, so it is possible that we may be able to experience a full-electric version of the A110. They won’t consider a hybrid, because it makes the car too heavy.

An off-road capable Alpine A110 Sports X variant was unveiled back in January 2020 as a concept car. Recently Renault has patented a production design while maintaining much of the features from the concept car.

alpine a110x rear
alpine a110x rear
alpine a110x
alpine a110x

This Alpine A110 Sports X features a wide body, increased ride height, and ski racks at the rear. The air intakes of the front bumper are also different. However, the rear-wheel-drive setup won’t be changed to a more off-road-friendly all-wheel-drive setup.

With people modifying their sports cars to do some Safari style off-roading, mostly the Porsche 911 cars and old American muscle cars, the Alpine A110X may prove popular among the niche market. 

It was recently announced that Renault will rebrand its F1 team as Alpine F1 despite the Alpine is producing only A110 right now. It is clearer that Renault wants to use the Alpine brand to represent their high-performance sports cars as Alpine got more of a strong thorough bread racing pedigree than Renault does. Though Renault has a successful racing career, it was largely thanks to the Alpine. Due to the wide range of automobiles provided by them, Renault doesn’t carry the same gravity as the performance-oriented brands such as the Alfa Romeo, BMW, or Audi does. Alpine however does and when considering all these facts it is more likely that the Alpine is going to get few more models in its lineup sooner or later.

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