The original Alpine A110 is a fabled champion whose reputation for dynamic excellence was built on some the most challenging stages of the inaugural World Rally Championship back in 1973.
It is this blue-ribbon lineage that Renault is seeking to tap as it attempts to resurrect the once highly regarded Alpine brand with its first truly dedicated sports car in over a quarter of a century – the new A110.
The rear-wheel-drive Alpine A110 will make its public debut at the Geneva auto show next week. Before it does, though, Renault has released the first official photographs of the mid-engine coupe, confirming it will go on sale in Europe later this year at a price officials say will directly challenge the Porsche 718 Cayman.
As hinted at by the earlier Alpine Celebration Concept revealed in 2015 and more showroom-based Alpine Vision Concept of 2016, Renault’s new Alpine sports car sub-brand has created a low slung 2-seater that draws its stylistic inspiration from the original A110.
Key among the design elements borrowed from its iconic 1973 World Rally Championship-winning forebear are the characteristic round lamps that sit out front within its low-set nose.
Other traditional styling cues also serve to visually link the new A110 with its predecessor of the same name, including the sweeping hood and its central feature line running up to the heavily raked windshield, heavily structured flanks, side window graphic, plunging roofline, wraparound rear glass and rear-end design.
Development of the Alpine A110 has been a complex and rather drawn-out affair. The new coupe originally was conceived in a joint venture between Renault and British sports car specialist Caterham, but that cooperation broke down shortly after it was made official in 2012.
In information that accompanied earlier teaser photographs, Alpine confirmed the unique monocoque body structure and outer panels of the new A110 are made from aluminum. It also announced its heavily contoured sport seats weigh half that of Renault’s standard seats at 29 lbs. (13.1 kg) each.
The focus on weight saving is said to endow the new French coupe with a curb weight of less than 2,425 lbs. (1,100 kg). By way of comparison, the Porsche 718 Cayman tips the scales at 2,943 lbs. (1,335 kg).
Yet, despite heralding the return of the Alpine brand for the past two years, Renault has yet to reveal much about the mechanical package of the A110, saying only that its engine will be a turbocharged 4-cyl. gasoline unit of an unspecified capacity.
However, WardsAuto has learned the powerplant is a spin-off of the turbocharged 1.6L used in the Clio RS, increased in capacity to 1.8L for added low-end torque and greater overall performance potential.
Details on output of the A110’s engine also remain undisclosed, but high-ranking Renault sources suggest it will deliver about 250 hp in standard trim and more than 300 hp in a highly anticipated performance version set to go up against the Porsche 718 Cayman S. That engine is expected to receive greater turbocharger boost pressure, among other power-enhancing tweaks.
The 4-cyl. is understood to be mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox featuring paddle shifters, with drive transferred to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled locking differential. Unclear at this stage is whether the car also will be sold with a traditional manual transmission.
Alpine hints at a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of less than 4.5 seconds for the standard A110. This compares with 4.9 seconds Porsche quotes for the 296-hp 2.0L Cayman.
Although it is yet to be publicly unveiled, Alpine already has announced a limited-volume A110 Premiere model. The celebratory rendition, to be produced in limited run of 1,955 units, references the year Alpine was founded by Frenchman Jean Rédélé, prior to being bought by Renault at the height of its World Rally Championship success in 1973.
All A110 Premier models have been snapped up by enthusiasts via a deposit through a unique app created by Alpine. Each one is set to feature a plaque within the center console with its production number, and comes in a choice of three paint finishes: traditional Bleu Alpine (blue), Blanc Solitaire (white) and Noir Profound (black).
The ʼ17-model A110 is the first road-going Alpine production model since A610 output ceased in 1992.