Alpine was founded in 1955 by Jean Rédélé, a young man with a passion for motorsport whose favourite playground – the Alps – inspired the name of his brand. And a quick note here, it is pronounced Al-peen not Al-pine.

The company took off as soon as the original A110 appeared in 1962. At this time, Alpine and Renault worked closely together since the Alpine was sold and serviced by Renault dealerships. In the early 1970s, Alpine was one of the rallying elite, and in 1971, Alpine monopolised the podium of the famous Monte Carlo Rally before winning it again in 1973, the year in which it became the first manufacturer to be crowned World Rally Champion. Alpine is a sporting brand. Racing is in its blood.

In 2021, Alpine’s motorsport programme gained momentum with the brand’s arrival in the Formula 1 World Championship under the name Alpine F1 Team.

And here we have the road car, returned after a 68-year hiatus, and it’s tough to argue that it is a pretty good looking car. It has been made as light as possible with sensible power.

“We have tried to follow Colin Chapman’s principle, which is still valid, so if we have low mass, we can have moderate power, so we don’t need super wide tyres or big, heavy brakes and so on,” says Alpine’s chassis technical leader, Thierry Annequin. “We have chased every gram everywhere on each component and each system to achieve this weight.”

The engine is mounted behind the seats and drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed Getrag double clutch gearbox – perhaps the only thing about the car that’s not the lightest possible option.

The Alpine A110 does things differently. Whether that makes it better or worse than a Porsche Cayman depends on your perspective. But essentially it’s a great car, a genuine exponent of light weight that makes you question the claims of almost every firm that says they build light cars. Even Lotus.

It tackles difficult roads with tremendous poise and agility; it’s a non-threatening sports car that proves that you can buck the trend towards bigger wheels, bigger brakes, more power and more weight and still have something capable and exciting. There’s not much that rips across country with so little effort and so little energy expended. That’s why l would plump for the £50,000 A110, instead of being tempted by the more powerful £60,000 A110 S or GT. The standard car is all you need.

Has Alpine changed the car enough since the arrival of the Lotus Emira in 2022? You could argue very little needed altering, and Alpine doesn’t really have the budget to do so. The revised touchscreen phone pairing is very welcome and the simplified range makes more sense, but the Lotus offers stuff the Alpine never can: a V6, a manual gearbox, and more cabin space. But the Lotus is bigger and heavier. That doesn’t detract from the A110’s charm though: you just need to buy into what this car offers, not what it sacrifices.

Want a sports car? This chérie petite French superstar is one of the very best ever made - and l never thought l would say that about a French car!



Model tested: Alpine A110
Power: 252 bhp
Speed: 0-62 - 4.5 seconds
Top: 171 mph
Economy: 44.3 mpg combined
Price from: £47,545.00

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