Being able to exploit F1 for production cars is the great challenge for all manufacturers. A difficult path which, however, seems to succeed at Alpine wonderfully: after having killed the Renault F1 in the cradle (an operation disputed by many) the French company has managed to establish itself in the elite world of supercars. The imperishable Fernando Alonso, before abandoning them for Aston, put in his effort, of course, but it is precisely the overall project that has worked. And this despite the Alpine range being “single model” with the very light and very fun A110.
The basic idea is to have managed to transform the Alpine brand into a sporty set-up of the series models. With the extra refinement that here we connect to the philosophy of the sports brand: it is no coincidence that these versions are called “esprit Alpine”. And, for example, the new Austral dressed up like this really makes a different impression. A few numbers to understand the matter: in just 2 years Alpine sales have doubled, while the A110 has been crowned the best-selling sports car in France and ranks in the Top 5 of the sports coupé segment in Europe. This means that the Dieppe production plant is at maximum production capacity and that to cope with all this Renault has had to (joyfully) open 40 new sales points in 2022, effectively doubling the Alpine network, reaching a total of over 140 dealers in the world.
“In my heart – explained Raffaele Fusilli, CEO of Renault Italia – not by chance – Alpine occupies a place of honor because it is sportiness, technological excellence and unique beauty. And this is only the beginning. Our goal, globally and in Italy – continued the manager – is to make Alpine an absolute protagonist in the sports car sector, multiplying sales volumes by 10 in 2026 compared to 2022 and doubling the Alpine Centers by the same date ”.
We then arrive at the 200 horsepower Austral E-Tech full hybrid flagship (but the range also includes the quieter Mild Hybrid Advanced and Mild Hybrid) which mixes sportiness with the obvious nature of a family car: 32 advanced vehicle assistance systems driving, 575 dm³ of load volume which can become almost 1000 (there is also a 16 cm sliding rear bench to offer the largest space for passengers’ legs in its category) and truly noteworthy on-road comfort. Thanks also to the trick (an absolute rarity now) of offering very soft seats. However, the sporty Alpine soul comes out at any time if desired thanks to the new 4Control advanced system with 4 steering wheels which makes trajectories very precise and thanks to the well-known multi-sense system which offers up to 5 different driving configurations to adapt the new Renault Austral E-Tech full hybrid to the road conditions and the driver’s wishes: engine sound and response, steering stability, interior lighting and driver screen configuration.
Obviously all this “Alpine esprit” comes from the brilliant A110 which revives the myth of Jean Rédelé, the Renault dealer from Dieppe who founded the Alpine, with a very modern and very fun to drive car. Rédelé was a great racing enthusiast and a brilliant driver: from a Renault 4 CV he created the first Alpine (the A106), then he immediately became a legend. And the conquest of impossible goals such as the Monte Carlo Rally, the Tour de Corse and – even – the World Rally Championship. All goals achieved with the same recipe: lightness, lightness and more lightness.
“Ingredients” (in reality it’s only one, but oh well) that we find intact – that’s the beauty of it – in the new Alpine 110. Simple, light, full of historical references: one of the most fascinating recipes of our times. Yes, because, if the design is identical to that of the original model (we are almost a replica) then the technique offers a refined aluminum frame and an engine derived from the large series (that of the Megane), i.e. an 1800 turbo but 252 HP, plus placed in a central rear position. All combined with double wishbone front and rear suspension and rear-wheel drive. Niceties. Then, if desired, there are more powerful versions in the range, but this is not the point.
The must here is discovered on the scales: the A110 stops the needle at 1080 kg. An absolute record made possible – as we were saying – by the aluminum body and an obsessive search for lightness. From the coverings to the suspensions, passing through the 13.1 kg Sabelt monocoque seats.
It’s a shame that whoever created this masterpiece didn’t have the courage to take the concept to extremes: here there are things – for a car like this – that are useless (satellite navigation system, Alpine mySpin smartphone replication function and two Focal audio systems). Nobody wants a comfortable Alpine because no Alpine has ever been comfortable. And no one will ever use such a car for long trips. The same goes for two other features that are out of place with the context: the digital instrumentation and the push-button electric handbrake. This last feature, for a rally car, is almost a mutilation.
But they are details. Useless if you want. On the Alpine A110 the driver remains the undisputed protagonist of everything. Turning into corners is lightning fast, the responsiveness of the steering and the speed of the gearbox are record-breaking. Thanks to the super-light structure of the A110, but also to the very low center of gravity and perfect weight distribution: those who drive here really have fun. All without having a crazy engine because in the end – even this pure tradition – the Alpine is powered by a simple 4-cylinder turbo 1800. The declared performance is a 0-100 of 4.5 seconds, but it doesn’t matter. The handling and the Alpine’s darting around the bends make this little GT unique. And then with the three driving modes – Normal, Sport and Track – the A110 is configured perfectly to the customer’s tastes, sorry driver… Another new feature: when the Launch Control procedure is initialised, one of the cylinders is temporarily deactivated to emit a more racing sound. When it comes to playing, they are real phenomena here… This is the Alpine spirit we were talking about.
#Austral #A110 #Alpine #magic #FormulaPassion.it