2010s / 2017 Geneva Auto Show / Alpine / French

First look: 2017 Alpine A110

Renault’s born-again Alpine division has introduced its first sports car in more than two decades. Called A110, the model made its debut during this year’s edition of the Geneva Auto Show.

The modern-day A110 is significantly inspired by the striking Vision concept shown last year during an event in Monaco. Key retro-inspired styling cues like the lights, the shape of the hood, and the wraparound rear window have made the transition from concept to production with only minor tweaks. The design is markedly inspired by emblematic Alpine models like the original A110 and the A108, but it’s not full-on retro like the Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen Beetle.

It’s not as small as its truly tiny predecessor, but it remains relatively compact. It stretches 164 inches (418 centimeters) from bumper to bumper, 70 inches (180 centimeters) wide, and just 49 inches (125 centimeters) tall. It offers enthusiasts rear-wheel drive and a 44/56 weight distribution.

The retro treatment is only skin-deep. The cabin features a pair of bucket seats developed by Sabelt, a bridge-like center console, and a three-spoke steering wheel. The instrument cluster is fully digital and configurable, and a large touch screen mounted on the dashboard runs the A110’s infotainment system. Admittedly, some of the controls — notably the switches used to adjust the mirrors — feel a little cheap and the materials inside used aren’t exactly top notch.

Power is provided by a mid-mounted 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that uses a turbocharger to generate 249 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty in a car that tips the scale at just 2,380 pounds (1,080 kilos). The only transmission available is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that can be left in drive, or shifted manually using paddles. At this point, Alpine isn’t planning on offering the A110 with a manual transmission.

The A110 hits 60 mph from a stop in 4.5 seconds thanks in part to the widespread use of aluminum in its construction. It’s aimed squarely at the Porsche 718 Cayman, and it’s shaping up to be a worthy adversary — at least on paper. In comparison, the base Cayman is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower, and it hits 60 mph from a stop in 4.9 seconds. Numbers only tell part of the story; we’ll have to wait until the A110 hits the market later this year to find out if Renault has truly built a Porsche beater.

With Porsche power comes a Porsche price, and the A110 will cost between €55,000 and €60,000 (approximately $58,000 and $64,000). Deliveries of the launch edition model — named Première Édition — will kick off before the end of the year. You’ll have to be patetient if you want one, because the model is just about sold out.

The rumors that indicated the A110 would be sold in the United States weren’t true. Company boss Bernard Ollivier told me during the show that the company is focusing on successfully (re)launching the Alpine brand in key markets like Europe and Japan, so shipping the car across the Atlantic isn’t a priority for the time being.

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