Up Close & Personal With The Alpine A110 R

I’ve been looking for an excuse to borrow an Alpine A110 for a long time now.

I had a chance to sample the car when the base model hit Japanese dealers a few years back, and was instantly intrigued. These compact, mid-engined French sports cars do surprisingly well in Japan, having seemingly found a niche audience amongst purists who want something different than the Porsche Cayman, Alfa Romeo 4C or Lotus Elise norm.

The A110 really appeals to people who understand where the small French sports car brand comes from, and why Alpine has done what’s done with this modern interpretation of the model it’s named after.


The original A110 is loved by many in Japan. In fact, I’ve easily seen more examples here than anywhere else. That includes the abandoned car from years back, which has since disappeared, hopefully to be saved. But it’s hard not to like lightweight cars built for the thrill of driving, let alone one with proper rallying pedigree behind it.

When Paddy a took a new A110 out for a drive last year, it made me realize that I still hadn’t properly experienced this car. The A110 had been on my radar ever since, so when I was invited along to the launch of the A110 R version a couple of months back, I jumped at the opportunity. ‘R’, in case you are wondering, stands for Radical. 

At the launch event, I not only had the chance to drift around some cones in the regular A110 S, but also watch two-time Formula 1 world champion – and current Alpine F1 Team driver – Fernando Alonso showcase an extremely limited edition A110 R variant that bears his name.


Just 32 examples of the Alpine A110 R Fernando Alonso are being built to commemorate the Spanish driver’s 32 career wins. Differences over a standard A110 R include a painted carbon fiber hood, black rear bumper treatment, and retuned suspension that Alonso himself had a big hand in.


But it was the straight A110 R that I was mainly interested in. Seeing it up close and being given a thrilling ride around a makeshift track by Alpine’s chief chassis developer only drove home the point: if you want to go fast, add lightness.

With the way most sports cars are going these days, it’s nice to see a manufacturer taking the more simplistic route.


As an added bonus, Alpine Japan kindly brought the A110 R launch car out to Daikoku, so I could spend a little time shooting it. Here, alone with new Alpine, I was really able to appreciate what stripping 34kg (75lb) from the A110 S actually involved.

The answer: a lot of carbon fiber. Enough of the composite goodness to bring the overall weight down to 1,082kg (2,385lb).


It’s not just any type of carbon fiber either, but F1-quality, pre-preg stuff finished off with some glossy clear-coat for extra effect.


Pop open the featherweight frunk lid and you can see who Alpine called in to help out with the R’s stunning composite work.


It’s not just about weight reduction, though. Pretty much every exterior carbon fiber addition (other than the roof) has been designed with aerodynamics in mind, and together it helps generate an extra 29kg (64lb) of downforce over the A110 S Aero Kit version.

This begins at the front with a lip spoiler that tightly hugs the contours of the bumper and venting on the hood to manage airflow more efficiently.


But it’s the A110 R’s wheels that really got me salivating. Sure, carbon fiber wheels are nothing new – if you’re talking about a Koenigsegg! Seeing these on a tiny mid-engined sports car filled me with joy. It’s the most natural place to shave kilos too, as you’re losing unsprung weight.


If you look closely, you’ll see that the rear wheels are different to the fronts. Not only do the wheels at each end of the car have different load characteristics, but also a different aero design.


The rear wheels have an aero disc quality about them, which is so cool. As the car is designed for maximum performance, it also comes fitted with grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires.


If, like me, you enjoy cool little details, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate the brake rotor hats, which have the Alpine logo on them.


At the rear of the A110 R, the first thing that catches your eye is the wing. This sits on two extruded aluminum swan-neck stays mounted to the trunk lid, and is of a size that doesn’t seem over the top. The main wing blade is carbon, but the end plates aren’t.


You quickly also notice a complete lack of rear window. Unlike the A110 S, which has a one-piece glass screen/vented engine cover, the A110 R trades this for a carbon fiber panel with machined metal vents.


Propping up the panel – something that requires you to disconnect three fasteners from inside the trunk – provides full access to the engine.


The 1.8L four-cylinder turbocharged is the same direct-injection, charge-cooled TCe M5P unit as used in the current Renault Mégane RS, good for 300hp. Here though, it drives the rear wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission.


Two electrical fans draw out air from the space directly behind the engine where the BorgWarner turbocharger, catalytic converter and first section of the exhaust system are positioned.


Performance-wise, this is the first-ever Alpine to go 0-62mph in under 4 seconds – 3.9-sec to be precise – and then carry on to a 177mph (285km/h) top speed.


The carbon fiber treatment continues inside the A110 R’s race-prepped cabin. This is where you’ll find lightweight carbon fiber-shelled seats laid out with minimal padding and upholstered in the same Alcantara-like material used throughout the interior. The only belts are Sabelt 5-point harnesses, so it takes a moment to get yourself sorted.


But once you’re done, give the red door strap a pull and you are ready to go!


Each A110 R is numbered, and the car sent to Japan for the model’s launch is #0001.


In case you’re wondering, there is also a decently-sized trunk at the back. It’s big enough to pack away your helmet, race suit and any other small bits and pieces you’d like to bring along to a weekend track day session.


Today, December 1, 2022, the A110 R officially goes on sale. I can’t wait to sample this car through the turns of Hakone and across some even tighter and more technical touge.


I’ve felt what it’s capable of, and the sheer lateral grip the A110 R generates around corners is insane. It shows just how beneficial removing weight from a car – and in all the right places – can be.


These are the type of cars that keep the pleasure of driving alive. More of this sort of thing please, Alpine. Très bien!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare



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What a wonderful and detailed coverage article! On a site note, we need an update on all of the vehicles from your abandoned series!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Aside from the Alpine they are all still there!!

Johnny Outterbridge

"Current" Alpine F1 driver??? Aside from that, nice article and great pictures. Engine bay looks super tight but I love the car overall. I just wish it were a little more affordable for the everyday enthusiast even if it were slightly heavier:/ Porsche Cayman price zone is almost double what an average person can afford...

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Well there is no need to get the R right, base model is more than enough!


Hi Dino! Dont you mean the Alfa 4C in the first paragraph? Seems to be a bit more in the ballpark of the others than the 8C.
Great article as always!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Shit, yes I mean the 4C! Been reading a few stories on Tazio Nuvolari so the 8C stuck in my mind lol


Here comes the ★

Dino Dalle Carbonare

5 out fo 5 stars from me!


Love it, the details are incredible, bet it's so much fun to drive. Excites me more than any hypercar. Any word on price? Not that I'm going to be able to buy one but still nice to know.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

No word on price, changes by region I guess!


110 000€ en france


That really is lovely.
I particularly love the differing carbon fibre wheels, although Gordon Murry said he wouldn't use them on a road car due to the possibility of them shattering?!


110 000€ en france

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I don't know, I think they are pretty rigid


British roads are rarely glass-smooth man, GM's probably right


I wonder if these rear windscreen delete are actually street legal in other countries? Even Ferrari's 812 Competizione does the same thing.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah, you know I wondered more about actual visibility as legality honestly I couldn't give 2 f^&Cs about. I'd definitely want an LCD screen in the interior showing me a raar view fo the car


Wait, this thing doesn't have a rear view camera for driving use? At least the Ferrari has it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare



Now this was quite a surprise to see this kind of car here let alone that this is an Alpine but this is the new A110 R
The A110 is a car I regard as one of the best cars ever made yes even as a modern car and I can only imagine how great the A110 R is
I really want to drive one now

Dino Dalle Carbonare

You and me both!


This is checking all the right boxes for me. A bonus for tickling my fancy for asymmetric wheel designs. Weight reduction taken seriously and moving that weight towards the polar center by design, not an afterthought. Great!!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Love the rear wheel design!


Awesome article. This is one of those cars I cannot get enough of. So glad you did an article on them. The original A110 is one of my favorite cars of all time and the 2017 (or w.e) year remake did not disappoint. If they bring Alpine to US I would definitely buy one. Spent time some time over seas and got lucky enough to drive one for a few days on some beautiful roads. The Cayman and Elise are fantastic cars to say the least, but the Alpine has something special to it. I feel more capable driving wise in an Elise but I would be happier in the Alpine.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah I wonder why they don't sell them there in the US?


Great article and car choice... Lightweight Specials were the future when buyers knew how to drive and saw clearly. This R version finally meets the Alfa Romeo's 4C capabilities meanwhile still feeling the interior (ahem, let's be honest, less Italian more German) that the Cayman brought to our tables.

The Charge cooler and Megane RS engine is just the key to all this, since the more rigid, beautiful 4c lacked the right engine (even tuned within price ballpark it still revs only to 7500 and makes a torquey ~350hp), and the ever heavier Cayman needs $150k+ (realistically, $200k+) to get into the GT4 RS to step outside amd above a couchy GT feel and track time. You do mention the Elise, which is now outdated and not as effective on track as it used to be given what $30k+ buys even now, I feel the Evora (maybe the GLA AMG engined one) may find a solid fight out of this A110R.

This article makes me super excited for the Option Auto episode where they bring this, the oem GT4 RS as factory benchmark, a tuned 4C as tuner benchmark, and the right oem Evora onto the Touge and Tsukuba to define the new new sports car lineup. Add in a few tuned ND Miatas and maybe BMW M2 or tuned 997 911 for a complete sports car picture!!! Epic episode.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Elise is still an impressive little package, as is the Exige if you can go up to that point.


Compared to this 110R? Feels like you haven't driven an Elise, or many at that, since they get floppy with age, are smaller and will develop cramps for guys our size... Just too "track" where this 110R, the 4c, the Cayman, etc they just are more balanced and more an appropriate "office" for doing what can be done with a lightweight special - and given these are greater power to weight than even a base Exige, it's no wonder everything built in the last 10 years leaves solid elise drivers in the dust on track anyways. The Elise, like any car, is a product of it's time and apart from the virtues that are still present in this car or "contemporaries", the past is past and non-competitive anymore. Turns into an experience rather than relevant. Of course, IMO, lightweights will always be relevant as the future is reached, and classics like the iconic Elise and maybe this Alpine(?) are solid as nostalgia. I just wouldn't compare a 25+ year old to this fresh off the factory floor - it isn't apples to apples is where I was going.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Since when is an Exige 25 years old? And yes I've driven them all


Love this car! I'd kill to own one someday. Sadly, she isn't offered in Canada, so I have to move or wait 15 years to import one. As always, great photos and write up, Dino!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Thanks man, yeah no idea why they don't homologate them for US market?


Too much red tape is my guess. Crash testing for a small amount of cars would be cost prohibitive, who sells them, does the warranty work (Nissan? But wouldn't that potentially hurt Z sales?) and so on. Renault left North America in 1987 (U.S.) and 1988 (Canada), so it would be a challenge to make it all work. Again, I see Nissan as the only potential link, although one of the Porsche dealers in Toronto Ontario sells McLarens, so anything would be possible. We get robbed on these shores!

Dino Dalle Carbonare

They have their own dealers here in Japan and doing well. That approach may work in the US


A true driver's car. Any driving impressions?? I wonder what time will do in Tsukuba Circuit.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I only got to drive the A110S and I was really impressed. Felt similar to a Cayman, just one notch down as less power and weight. Sort of a mid-engine interpretation of a Toyota 86, a car that pushes you to refine your driving style. Wish it was manual too...


In my opinion it's sort of a modern interpretation of an alpine a110


This is such a daring car, I don't like it at all but it's fast and looks good doing it. It's not my cup of tea but it's well past respectable. Good feature.


So much want for one of these! Mega story Dino. Thank you for sharing.


This is the only modern-day car I can get excited about. But, I've gotta ask wtf the engineers/designers were thinking bolting angle aluminium from B&Q (Home Depot, America) to the chassis for bracing under the engine cover . . .