Parkers overall rating: 4.8 out of 5 4.8
  • Quick acceleration thanks to light weight and lots of torque
  • Quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission only gearbox option
  • Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout means excellent traction

There are two engines on offer, and on paper, the Alpine A110's specifications are quite modest. For the Pure and Legende models, power output is 252hp, which is rather less than a front-line hot hatch, and the maximum speed is electronically limited to 155mph – and as such, you might be forgiven for thinking that it's not going to be especially quick.

But in reality, the accleration is effortlessly rapid. It's raw and involving, even when you fire it up, the engine barks into life, and the throttle responds playfully and instantly. It's quick off the mark, leaping out of the blocks like a greyhound going racing, and scorches from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. The sound it makes in Sport drive mode is pure 1960s performance car, with a hard-edged growl that rises to a pleasing crescendo towards the redline.

Alpine A110 (2019) engine

In late 2019, Alpine added a more potent A110S variant to the line-up. Denoting its 'S' status, you get a 40hp power increase from the same 1.8-litre four-cylinder power unit to 292hp. A 0.4bar increase in boost pressure adds the extra power, which now comes in at 6,400rpm - some 400rpm higher than the standard power unit. Top speed rises up to 162mph and the 0-62mph time drops to 4.4sec.

On all models, the gearchanges are crisp, whether you leave it in D or change them yourself, and all in all, this is a car with ample performance that's easy and safe to access – rarely feeling intimidating. We love it, and rarely come away wishing it had more power.

Alpine A110S 2019 centre console

Handling

  • Precise handling that inspires confidence
  • Masses of grip and traction, good throttle response
  • Sports car ability, but easy to drive day-to-day

Handling is the A110's major talent – it's a supremely talented car that answer any question the committed driver will ask of it. Because there are so few driver aids, you get to the heart of the car's character very quickly indeed.

There are driving modes to play with, which are controlled from a big red button on the steering wheel, and although this car doesn't have much in the way of driver aids, those adjustable parameters make all the difference. Selecting Sport (which we recommend) tighten up the car's car's steering, throttle and response from the stability control system. This is enough.

On the road, it's probably at its best in Sport mode – the steering and throttle response are sharp enough to enjoy the handling and response without getting too twitchy. Running in this mode allows you to really enjoy this sweet riding and agile handling car to its maximum capability.

And enjoy it you will – even before you get to the bends, you'll love the way it accelerates. It's fast without bludgeoning your senses, while the engine sounds raucous and hard-edged in an enjoyable way right up to the redline. The ride quality on rougher B-roads is remarkably compliant – it never jars you at all. But it's in the twisties where the A110 truly shines.

Because it's so unintimidating, and relatively soft-riding, you'll be confident to start pushing early on. In many ways the A110 reminds us of how Lotus used to set-up its cars – light, precise, effortless, and able to shrug off bumps so effectively that you'll often not realise you're going as quickly as you are. In short, it's incredibly close to perfection…

Alpine A110S 2019 handling, white

The S has a lower, more focused suspension setup too, with firmer springs and anti-roll bars for more precise handling, and features bigger brakes as standard (also available on the regular A110 as an option at extra cost).

In addition to its lower, firmer suspension, the A110S wears wider tyres than the regular A110, giving it a little more grip and more responsive steering. The most noticeable difference is that the stiffer suspension means it rolls around in the corners much less than the normal A110, which is a comparatively softly set-up car. The S feels more precise as a result, although the trade-off is that it’s less comfortable. The ride quality is considerably firmer, although it’s not intolerably so.