I have been searching for an excuse to borrow an Alpine A110 for a very long time.
I had an opportunity to check drive the automobile when the bottom mannequin hit Japanese sellers a couple of years in the past and was instantly intrigued. These compact, mid-engined French sports activities automobiles are doing surprisingly properly in Japan, having discovered a distinct segment viewers amongst purists who need one thing completely different from the Porsche Cayman, Alfa Romeo 8C or Lotus Elise norm.
The A110 definitely appeals to individuals who perceive the place the small French sports activities automobile model is coming from, and why Alpine has performed what it has performed with this contemporary interpretation of the mannequin it is named after.
The unique A110 is beloved by many in Japan. In reality, I’ve simply seen extra examples right here than anyplace else. That features the deserted automobile from years in the past, which has since disappeared, hopefully to be salvaged. But it surely’s laborious to not like light-weight automobiles constructed for the fun of driving, not to mention one with a correct rally pedigree behind it.
When Paddy a took a brand new A110 out for a drive final 12 months it made me notice I nonetheless hadn’t. correct skilled this automobile. The A110 had been on my radar ever since, so after I was invited to the launch of the A110 R model a few months in the past, I jumped on the likelihood. The ‘R’, in case you are questioning, stands for Radical.
On the launch occasion, I not solely had the possibility to drive round some cones within the common A110 S, but additionally watch two-time Formulation 1 World Champion – and present Alpine F1 Group driver – Fernando Alonso exhibit a particularly restricted version A110 R variant carrying his identify.
Simply 32 examples of the Alpine A110 R Fernando Alonso are being constructed to have a good time the Spanish driver’s 32 profession victories. Variations in comparison with a typical A110 R embody a painted carbon fiber hood, black rear bumper and retuned suspension that Alonso himself had a hand in.
But it surely was the straight A110 R that I used to be primarily focused on. Seeing it up shut and being given an exciting experience round a makeshift observe by Alpine’s chief chassis developer solely made the purpose: if you wish to go quick, add ease.
With the best way most sports activities automobiles are going today, it is good to see a producer taking the less complicated route.
As an added bonus, Alpine Japan kindly introduced the A110 R launch automobile to Daikoku, so I might spend a while photographing it. Right here, alone with the brand new Alpine, I might actually respect what eradicating 34 kg (75 lb) from the A110 S really was.
The reply: a pulp of carbon fiber. Sufficient of the composite goodness to convey the overall weight all the way down to 1,082 kg (2,385 lb).
It isn’t simply any type of carbon fiber, however F1 high quality, pre-preg stuff completed with some gloss clearcoat for added impression.
Open the feather-light lid and you’ll see who Alpine known as in to assist with the R’s wonderful composite work.
It’s not solely about weight reduction although. Just about all exterior carbon fiber additions (besides the roof) have been designed with aerodynamics in thoughts, and collectively they assist generate an extra 29 kg (64 lb) of downforce over the A110 S Aero Package model.
This begins on the entrance with a lip spoiler that tightly wraps across the contours of the bumper and vents on the hood to handle airflow extra effectively.
But it surely’s the A110 R’s wheels that basically obtained me salivating. Certain, carbon fiber wheels are nothing new – if you happen to’re speaking a couple of Koenigsegg! Seeing these on a small mid-engined sports activities automobile stuffed me with pleasure. It is essentially the most pure place to shave kilos too, as you lose unsprung weight.
In case you look carefully, you will note that the rear wheels are completely different from the entrance wheels. Not solely do the wheels at every finish of the automobile have completely different load traits, but additionally completely different aero designs.
The rear wheels have an aero disc high quality, which is so cool. Because the automobile is designed for max efficiency, it’s also outfitted with grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres.
If like me you want cool little particulars, I am positive you may respect the brake rotor caps, which have the Alpine brand on them.
On the again of the A110 R, the very first thing that catches your eye is the wing. This sits on two gooseneck extruded aluminum struts mounted on the boot lid and is of a dimension that does not appear extreme. The primary wing blade is carbon, however the endplates should not.
You additionally rapidly discover a complete lack of a rear window. Not like the A110 S, which has a one-piece glass display/vented bonnet, the A110 R replaces this with a carbon fiber panel with machined metallic vents.
Propping up the panel—which requires you to disconnect three fasteners from contained in the trunk—offers full entry to the engine.
The 1.8L four-cylinder turbocharged is similar direct-injected, charge-cooled TCe M5P unit used within the present Renault Mégane RS, good for 300 hp. Right here, nonetheless, it drives the rear wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Two electrical followers draw air from the house instantly behind the engine the place the BorgWarner turbocharger, catalytic converter and the primary a part of the exhaust system are positioned.
Efficiency-wise, that is the primary ever Alpine to do 0-62mph in below 4 seconds – 3.9sec to be precise – after which go on to a prime pace of 177mph (285km/h).
The carbon fiber remedy continues contained in the A110 R’s race-prepped cabin. That is the place you may discover light-weight carbon fiber shell seats laid out with minimal padding and upholstered in the identical Alcantara-like materials used all through the inside. The one belts are Sabelt 5-point harnesses, so it takes some time to get your self so as.
However while you’re performed, pull the pink door strap and also you’re good to go!
Every A110 R is numbered, and the automobile despatched to Japan for the mannequin’s launch is #0001.
In case you’re questioning, there’s additionally a good dimension within the again. It is sufficiently big to pack away your helmet, race go well with and another small gadgets you need to take with you to a weekend coaching session.
As we speak, December 1, 2022, the A110 R formally goes on sale. I can not wait to check this automobile via the corners of Hakone and over some even tighter and extra technical ones powerful.
I’ve felt what it is able to, and the sheer lateral grip the A110 R generates round corners is insane. It reveals how useful eradicating weight from a automobile – and in all the precise locations – may be.
These are the type of automobiles that hold the pleasure of driving alive. Extra of this sort please, Alpine. Très bien!
Dino Dalle Carbonare
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