Bear with me here but this all starts in a pub. I was reading a magazine about the BMW M3CSL belonging in the sports car HOF and it got me thinking, what sports cars belong there that are in Forza? Lotus Elise, BMW M3, Porsche Cayman, Mazda MX-5. All brilliant sports cars about to be joined by the car you can see above, the superb Alpine A110.
I'll let you in on a little secret, since its launch in 2017 I have been obsessed with the little Alpine A110. I see it as the antithesis of the heavy lumbering SUVs launched every week. In a world of super performance and more reliance on computers, this is a mechanical drivers car for the masses. Sure it may not have a manual gearbox and rely on a turbocharger but it all seems so pure, a real drivers car. And finally it is in the game.
It is hard to show how low the Alpine's roof is
The influence of the original A110 is very clear in the cars design with the quad lights at the front. This is no retro novelty however, look at the low kerb-weight, tiny dimensions and double wishbone suspension all around. It's all very Lotus Elise but with a real roof and more French. Take a good look around in Forzavista and see that each part is designed to be as light and functional as possible. Even the interior looks focused, despite the luxury touches it remains spartan and undeniably sporty.
The best way you can enjoy you the A110 is to take it on a winding road and let the handling do the talking. Take any corner with any aggression and you are welcomed by reassuringly stable steering. It remains crisp and light, firming up nicely throughout the corner. Here too you feel a real connection with the road, it feeds through the car nicely, again affirming a trust with the car. The chassis aids with how brilliant the car handles, and with the mid-mounted engine in the equation you can reliably guess where the weight is at any time.
Push the A110 too far and that does take real effort and you are greeted with mild understeer. The brilliance of this being that due to the low weight and minuscule dimensions, said understeer is entirely manageable, dragging the car back in the right direction is an easy feat and doesn't lose too much momentum. In short, the A110 handles really well. It is tight and engaging and offers a brilliant feedback and real intuition. It reminds me of a Lotus Elise just updated and with more forgiving suspension.
Side profile highlights tiny dimensions
The engine in the A110 may not be the biggest (1.8 litre Turbo) or the most powerful but in a car so light it fits in perfectly. It's a charismatic engine helping maximise the A110's sportiness. Ideally the A110 would come with more power but that can be said of almost any car ever, what it has in used incredibly efficiently. It works best when trying to conserve momentum like a soapbox racer, which allows you to exploit the chassis and engine. On the odd occasion that heavy braking is required it has plenty of feel, like you are directly placing your foot on the discs.
There are naturally a few issues that find their way into the Alpine. The biggest being the recycled engine note used for the Alpine. It starts fine but when pushing the rev needle towards the red it begins to sound harsh. Not the end of the world but certainly an area for improvement. The biggest annoyance however is the rings you need to jump through to get the thing. 50% overall for the season may not seem too much but it can be laborious, especially if you have other things to do. That isn't the cars fault though.
As such I am not left in any way disappointed in the Alpine despite my sky-high expectations. The cohesion of all the components offer a genuinely compelling car to drive at any speed and a car that plasters a smile on your face that is almost infectious. I beg you, go and find a way to get one and give it a blast.
tHE PERFECT SPORTS CAR
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Interior is focused but remains plush. Renault parts hard to ignore
Short wheelbase gives Alpine a similar characteristics to a Lotus Elise
Squat rear end not as retro as the front end but is still stunning
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