Alpine A110 Légende GT 2021
A completed long-term test reveals the A110 is more than just a brilliant driver’s car
’It didn’t feel like it had been excessively compromised to fulfil its lightweight remit’
’I’M JUST GOING OUT FOR A DRIVE.’ THIS has pretty much been my catchphrase for the last six months as any opportunity to drive our A110 has been grabbed with both hands – for an hour, maybe two, sometimes several.
Such is the allure of the Alpine. No matter how often or for how long I drove it, I never grew tired of the way it handled whatever road was put in front of it. Where so many modern performance cars hammer and bully their way along a road, making jagged, aggressive progress, the A110 would simply flow.
The uncommon suppleness to its ride made it a maestro of extracting the maximum enjoyment from less-than-perfect surfaces. Never did I feel like I ought to be making my way to a trackday to experience this car at its best. Direction changes, meanwhile, would be delivered with a genuine lack of inertia, eliminating the need for super-quick steering and hyped-up responses to generate a sense of agility and excitement. And then there was the roll
– remember roll? – that gently grew and receded mid-corner to tell you exactly how hard you were pushing, but without ever feeling like it was the enemy of your progress. I could go on. And on…
But we already knew the Alpine is a great driver’s car. What this long-term test really revealed was that it is a great driver’s car that you can also use every day. And there’s no ‘if you’re suitably determined’ proviso to that. I averaged nearly 1200 miles a month in ours and not once when I had to travel anywhere in it did I feel it was a drag to get behind its wheel. There was no awkward ingress and egress (it may be a low car, but the door aperture is nice and large), no echoey, spartan interior, no flimsy bits of trim, no awkward outward visibility, no recalcitrant low-speed behaviour, no edgy wet-weather handling, no feeble headlights – whatever the journey, whatever the conditions, you could just get in and drive.
The A110 doesn’t feel like it has been excessively compromised in order to fulfil its lightweight remit, then. Especially so in our car’s £64,807 Légende GT 2021 spec, which added niceties such as heated seats, an upgraded stereo and a rear parking camera alongside the 288bhp 1.8-litre four and uprated brakes from the A110 S. Yet still it tipped the scales at a mere 1134kg. (Incidentally, this special edition’s combination of standard suspension and S engine, which from 2022 has an extra 8bhp, is now available in a permanent member of the range: the A110 GT.)
What simplicity there was in the A110 only added
to its appeal. There was no befuddling introduction to this car. Just press the start button, prod D for Drive and away you went. Maybe you’d push the Sport button on the steering wheel later for a keener throttle response and more pops from the exhaust, but that was it. There were no interfering safety features to disable every time you got in, no damper modes to endlessly cycle through in search of the best one. Heck, even the heater controls used a couple of proper physical dials rather than some infernal virtual buttons on a touchscreen.
OK, so even in upgraded form the stereo was more a means to stave off boredom on a dull route than to sonically impress, but it did the job. The satnav was properly shonky, mind, being unintuitive to use and having a habit of randomly going silent for a while despite not being muted. (Facelifted 2022 cars get an improved nav system and are also Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatible.)
Boot space could be an issue if you like to carry large objects, but I never had trouble fitting a ‘big shop’ in the car, and with a 50-litre Boot-bag strapped to the rear bootlid a week-long holiday for two proved no problem. For smaller, day-to-day items, Alpine’s own storage case – a lidded leather receptacle that attaches to the bulkhead between the seatbacks – proved essential, as there’s no glovebox or enclosed central cubby. Shame you have to pay £468 to get it.
On the subject of costs, the first service – scheduled for 12,000 miles or, as in this case, one year – was due just a few days after the car left us. Depending on the chosen Alpine dealer this would have cost around £400, give or take. With 11,300 on the clock there was 5mm of tread left on the front Michelin Pilot Sport 4s and 3mm on the rears, so the latter would soon need replacing, at around £150 each. Otherwise the only running cost was fuel, and I should point out that our 31.7mpg overall average included a significant proportion of enthusiastically driven miles. Driven steadily, 40mpg or more was easily achievable.
But the temptation to take the more interesting route was always there with the A110, for that simple, unadulterated joy of driving something light, something that wasn’t overburdened with tech or unnecessary kit, but which also wasn’t stripped back to the point of being a weekend toy. It was, essentially, my perfect car. In fact it’s hard to imagine I’ll ever run another long-termer that will topple it. Although if one day I’m proved wrong, you certainly won’t hear me complaining.
Date acquired February 2022 Duration of test 6 months Total test mileage 7015 Overall mpg 31.7 Total costs £109.95 (Boot-bag) Purchase price £64,807 Value today £59,995