The new Alpine A110 is improbably compact: 4.18m long, 1.80m wide and 1.25m high.
Which makes it surprising that I could climb in (and out) with such ease, given that I’m 192cm tall. Sure, the seat was set back as far as it would go, but I had enough leg, head and shoulder room to be as comfortable as I could wish for - and for someone else of my own height to climb aboard and sit next to me.
The racing seat, notable for weighing half as much as the one used in the Mégane RS and for not having any height or recline adjustment that can be done on the spot and without recourse to a spanner, was also comfortable. I was only in it for five minutes, but it felt as cushioned as you’d hope for, given that Alpine is promoting the A110 as a cross-continent car.
The controls are all where you’d want them to be in a driver’s car: close, in sight and to hand. The digital dash is particularly smart, changing display and colours as you switch between driving modes, all the way up to an F1-style rev counter that builds and closes in from both sides towards a central point.
Be in no doubt: despite the low weight and probable price, corners don’t appear to have been cut extensively. The fit and finish of the materials on this launch-edition car - destined for display in Geneva - were top notch, but then you’d hope a car company would have the wisdom to make sure that was the case (although, amazingly, this isn’t always true). A glovebox is the only obvious omission, a concession to the compact size of the car.
One surprise is how hard it is to see the front end of the bonnet from the driver’s seat, especially given my height. You sit low, for sure, but other people trying it for size also confirmed they have a similar issue. I’ll reserve judgement for now, as you never quite know how you’ll feel once you’re focused on driving rather than trying to take everything in quickly, but it’s a potential negative, given how important it is to know exactly where a car is when you are trying to drive it swiftly.
Perhaps most important, the A110's cabin bears comparison to the Porsche 718 Cayman. It isn't quite as luxurious, perhaps, and with switches and buttons that aren’t quite as solid in the hand, but there’s no denying it has a look, character and charm all of its own.