The Alpine A110 is the 2019 Auto Express Coupe of the Year, with the Porsche 718 Cayman and Toyota Supra commended
The Alpine brand has been around since the fifties, and its comeback with the new A110 has been a stunning return to form. Its retro-inspired looks caught our attention when it was revealed, but the real magic became apparent when we got behind the wheel.
A design ethos prioritising light weight (it tips the scales at just under 1,100kg in its purest form), modest power and driver engagement means it’s one of the best driver’s cars you can buy in 2019. The low kerbweight has huge benefits for the car’s ride and handling, but it also means the A110 is good to live with, thanks to decent economy, especially considering the stonking performance on offer.
Its 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo engine produces 248bhp, which is a little less than its main rivals, yet because it’s so svelte, the A110’s performance is superb, with 0-62mph taking just 4.5 seconds. Its engine, mounted right behind the cabin, is characterful and fun to use, thanks to its addictive induction noise and fondness for revs. The standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is up to the task, too, with fast enough shifts.
The tiny cabin encloses the driver, and while the car’s focused nature means storage is limited, a decent driving position, responsive steering and stylish design touches mean that the Alpine feels like a very special car.
It’s incredibly agile and keen to be driven hard, so you can have plenty of fun on a B-road – and yet its passive damping is so well set up that it rarely comes unstuck over a rough bit of tarmac. The car is comfortable, but while some drawbacks in practicality mean you might not want to use it every day, it doesn’t feel too compromised, so you’ll still be able to cover big distances in one hit.
For the money, there’s nothing else quite like the Alpine A110. It’s more exotic than some supercars costing twice the price, with its mid-engined layout and striking exterior design, but it’s also more fun more of the time than nearly any other car on the road.
Our choiceAlpine A110 Pure (£46,910)
All versions of the A110 get the brilliant, bespoke aluminium chassis that makes the car so special, along with the same 1.8-litre engine and DCT gearbox, so we’d stick with the cheaper Pure model that rides even better on its smaller wheels. Higher-spec Légende models get more toys, but aren’t any more fun.
CommendedPorsche 718 Cayman
If the Cayman still had a flat-six engine, it would easily be a category winner, but the flat-four isn’t as good, so it makes life harder for the Porsche. The car remains sublime in every other way, though, from ride and handling to practicality.
There’s another legendary name that has returned to the market this year, and that’s the Supra. This version features a strong straight-six engine from BMW, lively handling and bold looks. It’s great to drive and a worthy alternative to the Alpine or Porsche.
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