THE Alpine A110

TopGear mag­a­zine’s Per­for­mance Car of the Year 2018

Top Gear (UK) - - THE FINAL FIVE -

I’d ex­pected the Pista to be more steely-eyed, but in­stead it comes across as a brighter, sharper, more ex­citable 488 GTB. That it still rides with dex­ter­ity is a de­light, that the brakes bite and the gear­box cracks and the engine – oh, the engine – snaps... well, it all makes the Pista feel ul­tra-ur­gent. And I love the way it looks, the plung­ing front and straked rear treat­ment draw­ing at­ten­tion from those gap­ing side in­takes.

Post-road de­bate. 5pm. Vil­lage Hall. We’ve got to clean the gîte, but be­fore wield­ing mops we wield mugs of tea and ten­ta­tively lean back on the leather so­fas. Ev­ery­one, ev­ery­one puts the same cars in first and last po­si­tion. It’s the mid­dle or­der that causes ruc­tions, but they’re half-hearted be­cause we’ve all got the win­ner we want, and that’s what re­ally mat­ters.

Sec­ond, third and fourth, then. Filled by the cheap­est and most ex­pen­sive cars. Vot­ing places the McLaren a sniff ahead of the Fi­esta, the Fer­rari ahead of both. For a tenth the price, we all agree, the ST is a bel­ter. More ma­ture than its pre­de­ces­sor, but in­fused with the same spirit. With a win apiece between track and road, it would be easy to call it hon­ours even between McLaren and Fer­rari, but we’re giv­ing the nod to the Fer­rari. It’s a more joy­ous con­veyance.

Last and first. You know which way this one’s go­ing. The prob­lem for the BMW is we’ve seen it be­fore. This is just a tweak of the tem­plate, but oth­er­wise fol­lows a fa­mil­iar for­mat – don’t worry too much about re­duc­ing weight, just add power and con­trol. This ap­proach has un­der­pinned per­for­mance cars for the last 20 years or more, and although we’ve oc­ca­sion­ally mut­tered about it, it’s un­likely we’d be com­plain­ing if we hadn’t seen a dif­fer­ent route.

The trou­ble for Alpine is that buy­ers are now con­di­tioned to this, to re­spect power above all. But look: six peo­ple of widely vary­ing tastes, ages and abil­i­ties all voted it top, all adored its com­po­sure, candour and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I’ve never driven a bet­ter ad­vert for light-weight­ing. Noth­ing else moves like this, flows like this. The new Alpine is part French philoso­pher, part Zinedane Zi­dane (and yet em­phat­i­cally not Eric Can­tona). It’s a car with won­der­ful poise and bal­ance, a deft touch and a loose, lim­ber en­ergy. It is pure driv­ing, and it’s our Per­for­mance Car of the Year 2018.

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