Alpine A110: Watch out, Porsche CaymanShould the Cayman-baiting Alpine A110 have Stuttgart worried?
In 1973, a little French company called Alpine won the first ever World Rally Championship. With a diminutive rear engined coupe called A1 10. And that 73 season was kicked started in spectacular fashion by clean sweep of the podium. The iconic Monte Carlo Rally. [SOUND] And now, 45 years later back on the roads on the sides of France, we're in a brand new Alpine A110. It's very exciting. [MUSIC] The new A110 is mid- rather than rear-engine. It has been designed as >So, it was a 6th or 7th generation variant of the original. It is a distinctive and rather attractive shape that perfectly manages to take inspiration from the past without being [UNKNOWN] retro. Underneath the beautiful blue body-work, is a largely bonded aluminium structure. The engine is a 1.8 litre turbo charged 4-cylinder, going at 249 [UNKNOWN] horsepower and 236 pounds foot That might not sound like much but is enough for [UNKNOWN] 62 miles an hour in 4.5 seconds. And the reason for this is [UNKNOWN] there's been one guiding engineering principle for this new car which has been weight saving. Nothing, it seems, has gone unscrutinized by the scales from the seats that weigh 13 kilos instead of 26, to tiny unseen brackets for sensors that weight 7 grams instead of 14 The result is a car that weights just 1008 kg in its base form. [SOUND] In this more luxurious premiere version with sat nav, you get 18-inch wheels, only weights 1103 kg with a full tank of fuel. [SOUND] And you can feel that lightness as soon as you get into the car. Even before you do, as soon as you open the door, you feel they've saved the weight. But the important thing is, that from an everyday perspective travelling here on the auto route or through towns, it doesn't feel thin. It doesn't feel like You're in a tin can, which sometimes you feel like it might do because they stripped everything back, pared it all away. You can really imagine living with this car every day. The [UNKNOWN] in here, well, yes, obviously, they've had to save some money somewhere so you can see the occasional reno part like these stalks here. [SOUND]. But they spend money on crucial things. There really is quality in the materials. And I love the details like this, which reminds you of the original. I did actually drive an original A10, which was something of a miracle, because it's a tiny, tiny little car. And I am quite tall. This by comparison, although, yes it's a small car, there's plenty of room for me in here. And I'm 6 foot 4, 5, something like that. [MUSIC] There are three different driving modes accessed by the button on the steering wheel, normal, sport and track. These adjust the steering weight, throttle map, and engine sound. One thing always stays the same. We stopped here just for a minute because I want to get goofy about suspension. So bear with me on this. Let's start with the dampers. They're passive dampers, not active. Which I always think is a good thing. I always have because they're just more intuitive in terms of the way they feel flowing down a road. And so we've got a fixed rate damper in here. The other thing is we've got double wish bones all around. So what, you might say. Well, actually it's quite crucial because the packaging is more difficult with double wish bones, because they intrude quite a long way in. And at the front we've got the fuel tank to contend with and at the back you've got the engine to contend with. So it was a very conscious decision to have this. Why, we'll that's all to do with the camber curve. When the engineers fixed the hard points and chose the lengths and wishbones, they did it so that the camber would remain consistent when it rolled. And that keeps the contact patch very consistent as you go through a corner. It also allowed them to get. Also covering the arches and have a really low spring rate which gives it that wonderful pliancy that makes use of it being so lightweight. You can really feel the light weight just through an instant agility of the car. Every reaction speaks of having a lack of curb weight. And despite the fact, they haven't changed performance figures, 0 to 62 in 4.5 seconds might not sound, sort of mind blowing and where an age where everything seems to begin with a three. But it feels really quick. This is just beautiful the way it flows down the road. You can feel it breathing with the surface. Steering is not wriggling with feel but you can feel it come out through the chair seat as much as you want it to be honest. The engine is really nice. It suits the character of the car, revving little four cylinder. [SOUND] This is how a four cylinder engine really should sound as well, you get a little bit of turbo [UNKNOWN], but mainly you just get a really nice induction noise. [SOUND] The chassis really is wonderful though, they kept the center of gravity really low so it's. Right here sort of hip level between the seats which you can really feel. There's a suppleness to the suspension. They haven't been afraid to let the car roll that double wishbone setup. It's giving the car just this beautiful pliancy and flow, the tires aren't too big even at relatively normal speeds you can enjoy this car and you feel it moving around. The roll is nice, because it's been engineered into the suspension not because this is a heavy car. [NOISE] They decided not to put a limit [INAUDIBLE] in the car. So you [INAUDIBLE] get a better pressure upfront. [NOISE]. You can occasionally feel the inside wheels spin up on the [INAUDIBLE] but generally speaking actually there's not a lot of You don't feel like you're missing out. [SOUND] And it feels really progressive, and just natural when. [SOUND] When it's over the limit. The elephant in the passenger seat with the new [UNKNOWN] is, why no manual gearbox? Firstly, the cost, let's face it, it costs an awful lot to develop two kinds of gearboxes and so they had to accept that most people are gonna pick the paddle ship doctrine. Secondly, from an engineering point of you, you think, well, light weight, surely a manual gearbox is lighter. But the engineers claim that as a whole system, when you take out the third pedal, the reinforcement needed for the linkages and stuff down in the transmission tunnel, a DCT is actually lighter. The gearbox itself is thankfully a vast improvement on the Get Track six speed that Renault Sport uses in the Clio RS. It's still made by Get Track But it's a new seven speed with a wet clutch. It's quite enjoyable to use and it makes left foot braking a doddle, if that sort of thing is your bag. Those skinny tires mean you can work [SOUND] to levels of grip [LAUGH]. What a fun car. The last time I was on the road was with the [UNKNOWN] P1 and F1. But you know what? It could've been a real disappointment coming back here. And it isn't, not a bit of it. [BLANK_AUDIO] Perhaps a more obvious rival for the 50,000 pound LP The Porsche 718 Cayman. The chassis on the Porsche is sublime and the option of the manual gearbox is lovely. Given the choice, [UNKNOWN]. It is that good. But this is not just a good car, it's an important car. Because for the first time in a long time, the manufacturer Has chosen not to pursue pure performance as a type right metric, not to chase straight line speed. They've chosen something else. They've chosen drive revolve route, a car that's enjoyable all the time. This really could mark something of a watershed for performance cars. [MUSIC]