Alpine A110 R 2023 UK first drive

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As night follows day, GT3 follows Porsche 911 and CS follows BMW M3. As great as those standard cars are, it makes sense that there’s also a focused, track-honed version with more aero, carbonfibre panels and sticky tyres for those who want to go chasing lap times. It helps that in the case of the 911 GT3, you get a really special engine thrown in.

For the Alpine A110, that kind of progression isn’t as obvious, because it’s almost an anti-track car. With its relatively soft suspension, compact dimensions, light weight and fairly modest power output, it’s a car ostensibly and singularly designed to have fun on the road. That it will actually entertain you on a track day seems by the by.

The result is that the R makeover sits a little uneasily – literally in the case of the visible additions. The carbonfibre bits aren’t quite as natural a fit as they are on say, the 911. They’re hard to miss, too, as they include not only a bonnet, a diffuser, various skirts, winglets and a swan-neck rear spoiler but also the wheels and, most contentiously of all, a rear windscreen. Carbonfibre not being known for its transparent properties, this means you can’t see out the back of the Alpine A110 R.

It all adds up to an extra 29kg of downforce at top speed, and together with the surprisingly comfy carbonfibre-shell Sabelt seats inside, these measures reduce the weight by 34kg over the A110 S. Curious then, that our test car had a Focal hi-fi system, complete with subwoofer behind the seats.

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At 296bhp, the A110 R has no more power than the A110 S, so the main dynamic alterations are the fitting of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, unique anti-roll bars that are 10% stiffer in the front and 25% stiffer in the rear and a set of unique coilovers by ZF.

Those lower the ride height by 10mm and allow a further 10mm reduction, and they’re adjustable for compression and rebound over 20 clicks.

In other words, it’s A110 with more grip and more seriousness – things the A110 was never about, making it seem a strange recipe.

Whether the driving experience of the A110 R sits uneasy with the Alpine’s fundamental character will depend on your perspective.

If you’re enthralled by the unique dynamic character of the standard A110, you will keenly feel that about 20% of the delicate sweetness has been traded for grip. The A110 R probably isn’t for you.

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