by Maxime Cannesson - Cars

Alpine: the two A110 masterminds

In this exceptional interview we quizzed two of the people who are writing the latest chapter in the Alpine history. Michael van der Sande, Alpine managing director, and David Twohig, Alpine chief engineer clue us up on some of the A110 secrets.

How would you sum up A110?

MVDS: After the years of hard work, the whole of the Alpine team is incredibly proud to be showing the car in Geneva. The new A110 epitomizes the boundless group-wide enthusiasm on putting out a real French sportscar: this is the very first 100% French-designed sportscar, reaping full benefit from the best in French automotive design know-how and processes, at our research centres. This is a lightweight, agile, compact car, true to the original Alpine genetics, so it couldn’t possibly have been made anywhere else but at the Dieppe plant, the cradle of the original Alpine, built by Jean Rédélé in the nineteen-sixties.

DT: The story of this Alpine, and Alpine in general, is first and foremost about people. The engineering teams came up with a model that I like to think that Jean Rédélé himself could have designed all that time back, if he’d had the benefit of the sort of innovations we have at our disposal today. The all-aluminium structure brings light weight and agility. And the chassis gives the perfect balance between comfort and roadholding. Like every Alpine, this Alpine is the outcome of a most demanding engineering exercise, to create a sportscar that will earn the respect of expert drivers and everyday enthusiasts alike.

 

Do the driving sensations recall those of the early Alpines?

MVDS: The behind-the-wheel experience in this new A110 is eminently true to the values of the original Berlinette. What we’re offering customers is a timeless experience, that starts with that very low driving position, as if you’re brushing the asphalt. So yes, the new car is faithful to the original Alpine spirit, which we’re very proud to be reviving. The driving sensations are quite exceptional, combining high performance (100 km/h in 4.5 seconds) with exceptional agility on road and racetrack.

DT: Like the berlinette, the A110 is not only for experienced drivers on closed circuits. Whoever you are, wherever you are, it’s a real pleasure to drive. Unlike its rivals, Alpine offers a unique driving experience, unmistakably sporty but accessible to all drivers.

 

How does the A110 stand with respect to the competition?

MVDS: Though Alpine is obviously positioned in the sportscar segment, it holds a unique place by virtue of its unique genetic background. It’s a compact and highly agile sportscar with a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine that gives it an excellent weight/power ratio for highly comfortable and superbly responsive performance in everyday motoring. We’re talking about a lightweight, agile, powerful car that makes no compromise on the sort of comfort our customers expect in everyday use.

DT: Alpine has always been in a category of its own, neither a hardcore trackday car, nor a heavy GT ‘cruiser’. With this new model we’re offering a new, well-balanced option – a lightweight, agile design for 100% driving pleasure.

Will we be seeing Alpine dealerships sprouting up all over the place?

MVDS: Alpine will be shipping across 12 European countries in 2017 then in Japan and the UK in 2018. It will be selling at sixty of the best dealerships across Renault’s European network, selected to excellence criteria. At the same time dedicated Alpine showrooms will be opening over the coming weeks, starting at Boulogne Billancourt (France) in March. We’re offering a unique Alpine experience, with specially trained advisors there to answer customers’ questions.

 

When will we be seeing the first Alpines on the road?

DT: If you keep your eyes open, you might just spot one of the few prototypes (lightly disguised, it’s true) on the roads round Paris!

MVDS: Patience! The first A110s will be shipping toward the end of the year across Europe, starting with the 1955 Alpine Première Edition models that were ordered in advance by our first customers. The new models will be available in various trim levels, with prices starting at €50,000.

Tags: a110 alpine Geneva geneva motor show sport