What is it?
It's easier to explain what the new Alpine A110 S isn't, actually; and it's not A110 v2.0. Alpine chief vehicle engineer Jean-Pascal Dauce – not so much the new David Twohig as the original, since he worked on the A110 project in the concept design phase when it was still a joint venture with Caterham and then returned to Renault’s motorsport department only to be brought back when his successor departed – is very clear about that.
“We have had the S planned from the earliest stages of the project,” he explains, “because we knew that a part of the Alpine customer base would want more from the car. More power, more speed, more grip and precision, and better track suitability. It’s as simple as that. We would probably have introduced it earlier if not for the mess that changing emissions laws have made of our business these last 18 months.
"We’re not answering any criticisms of the car with this version, or addressing what we consider to be failings,” he goes on. “Frankly, we don’t think it has too many of those – and the reaction of the market and the media would seem to agree.” To prove his point, he explains that the regular A110 is expected to outsell the new A110 S by about three to one.
If that turns out to be true, it’ll prove yet again how special and unusual this compact, lightweight sports car is – in a segment where so many buyers gravitate by default towards the most powerful and performance-tuned version of the car they’re considering. It’ll prove that most Alpine owners really get the ‘less is more’ philosophy that underpins so much about this car.
And, after a good thrash on both road and track, I’m inclined to agree with what the gut instincts of that majority of buyers may be telling them. For reasons we’ll get to, the A110 S is certainly faster, more precise-handling and more composed at track speeds than the regular A110 – and it can therefore be considered a success at broadening the capability and reach of the car and at complementing the existing model range perfectly well. I’m not sure it’s the one I’d pick, though.