Alpine A110 R review: A lot more expensive, but is it worth it?

He is eager to have fun, but where does he have the most fun?

It won't be long before Alpine will be done with the combustion engine. You wonder how many billionths of a percent all A110s together have ever contributed to the excess CO2 in the air, and whether we can't just leave this invisible microdrop on the enormous ocean alone. But that is a pointless discussion, because the course has been set and the decisions have been made.

Alpine is joining forces with Lotus for its next sporty two-seater, and there will be no valve or piston involved. That will take a while, but this is the very last variant of the A110 that Alpine will make, the ultimate expression of what this car should be. And let's be honest: when you look at the Alpine A110 R, it also looks like a case of God bless the grip, death or the gladioli, don't just go all out, tip it upside down and shake it out.

What's different about the Alpine A110 R?

Carbon fiber wheels with a special aero design at the rear. A wealth of airflow solutions under, on and on the body parts. No rear window. Carbon fiber bucket seats with five-point belts. What kind of creation is this and what has he done with that easy-going, friendly A110?

Still looks pretty cute, right? Be careful, don't challenge him... | Photo: © Alpine / Yanick Brossard

In addition to the standard car, there was of course the GT (with 300 instead of 252 hp) and the S (also with 300 hp, but mainly with some sporty adjustments that made it a bit sharper). Compared to the latter, the R does not seem very special on paper. Power and torque are the same, nothing has been done to the transmission and neither has the brakes.

Reddit knights and Facebook experts would have no trouble digitally bashing it, especially when you consider that it has to sell for almost 40,000 euros extra compared to the A110 S. For some carbon fiber frills and a heavier lettering on the back? What are they thinking at Alpine? But if you look further, you will realize that the R is not just any sports kit.

The improvements compared to the A110 S

It is 34 kilos lighter than the S, and if you know how light that car already is and how much engineering is behind it, you understand that further weight loss cannot have been easy. Or cheap. The carbon fiber parts account for a large part of the profit, but the interior was also partly stripped and the number of available options was reduced.

The rear window was replaced by a light carbon plate, which also ensures more effective cooling of the engine. The A110 R comes dry at just 1,082 kilos. A Cayman or Emira basically weighs 250 kilos more. That's a pony, one and a half jukeboxes or five recalcitrant teenagers that you don't have to drag around the bend every time.

The Alpine A110 R cuts through the air better

And there is more. Aerodynamics play a major role in the R, as you can immediately see from the reshaped front flap, the ankle tire cutters along its flanks, those rear wheels and the intriguing spoiler on the back.

This is the same as that of the A110 S, but mounted higher and further back on two goosenecks. The R has considerably more downforce here; but less on the front axle, because Alpine wanted to keep the total downforce the same. The cooling of the brakes is 20 percent more effective.

The chassis was redeveloped with a specific tire in mind: the well-known Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, actually a semi-slick that is not usable in all circumstances. The springs are 10 percent stiffer, as is the front stabilizer bar.

At the rear bar it even makes a difference of 25 percent. The dampers are manually adjustable and although the car as a whole is already 10 millimeters lower than the S, you can lower it another 10 millimeters for more aggressive track work. Not just any sports kit, as we said.

The racing interior of the A110 R

Open the door and you have to smile scornfully at the seat belt situation, only to realize that there are not also normal three-pointers on board. So you will have to put on that Sabelt armor, every time. Now that's dedication.

Bare and simple. Only: where do we know those red nylon loops? | Photo: © Alpine / Yanick Brossard

Driving on public roads is better than on the track

At the Jarama circuit, just outside Madrid, we get in for the first time and it turns out that we can't actually fit in the car with a helmet on. Slumping slightly, we start our laps on a linky and confusing circuit that we are not familiar with. We don't gather much information about the car itself, busy as we are with braking points and avoiding walls; but despite the stone-cold asphalt, it is noticeable that there is grip, a lot of grip.

Later that day we hit the mountain roads in the area and fully experience the revelation that is Alpine A110 R. First of all: as hardcore as it may seem, it still comes across as friendly on public roads. Not uncomfortably stiff, not unnecessarily hard. Just like a regular A110, it does not scrape over the asphalt even on the most grueling speed bumps. The engine sound is led in via a special sound pipe – that is not new. We wish it sounded a little bolder, although the pops and pops from the exhaust are off the charts.

The driving behavior of the A110 R is wonderful

The controls are pure telepathy. The entire car follows your input like one feather-light prop and never works against you. In quick succession of turns we feel like a pro fighter who successfully avoids Rico's blows. Left, right, seeing and deciding, surviving, millimeter work. This degree of accuracy and adhesion to the asphalt is rare.

When the understeer comes, you go so fast that you are happy to be called to order. There is no drifting; too much grip and no limited slip differential. Unnecessary ballast, says Alpine. This is a speed weapon, not a toy. Although the brakes are satisfactory, we were hoping for a more granite pedal, and the shifts of the seven-speed DCT could be heavier in Track mode. But that's whining about the color of your fruit sprinkles.

The A110 R is so focused on driving, so intent on fun at all speeds… Cars like this come around once in a generation, if you're lucky. And anyone who stumbles over the extra price should look up what else you can get for this amount, how it drives and what it is capable of. That says enough. Whether you fear the future or not, the numbered, but not limited A110 R is the car every driving enthusiast deserves.

Specifications of the Alpine A110 R (2023)

Engine 1,798 cc four-cylinder turbo 300 hp @ 6,300 rpm 340 Nm @ 2,400 rpm Drive rear wheels 7v automatic Performance 0-100 km/h in 3.9 s top 285 km/h Consumption (average) 6.9 l/100 km 155 g/ km CO2 D Label Dimensions 4,256 x 1,798 x 1,252 mm (lxwxh) 2,420 mm (wheelbase) 1,082 kg 45 l (petrol) 96 + 100 l (luggage) Prices € 123,290 (NL) € 112,000 (B)