The Alpine A110 thread

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JonT
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The Alpine A110 thread

Instead of derailing finmac's thread, I thought it might be worth starting a new one on the A110.

So, continuing questions about ownership experience...

I ordered a new A110 Pure last May, it arrived at the end of November. Since then I've done nearly 5000 miles including a long weekend in Scotland at the end of Feb just before lockdown.

Yes, I've had a cracked windscreen. Annoyingly happened while the car was parked up in the garage during lockdown. Once things opened up, I still had to wait around another 6 weeks to get it approved and a slot booked (including a bit of to and fro with photos to decide whether it was a warranty claim as the dealer is a 3 hour round trip for me and also waiting for them to have a courtesy car available - which was another Alpine rather than a generic Renault). Quite frustrating, but first world problems. Not had any door rattles.

I deliberately didn't want a car from the first year of production as inevitably some issues will get ironed out. Certainly one production change has been the front wheel-arch vents which improve on-track cooling. I think you could take a dremel to the old ones rather than replace.

The IVI is truly woeful - slow, clunky and doesn't have carplay or android auto. Bluetooth works ok and I tend to use that with spotify on my phone. DAB reception is shit too, but I don't think it's any worse than my wifes Mazda. 

Servicing - not cheap, IIRC ~£400 for an oil service (I haven't had one yet, but asked before I ordered it). But like an Elise, the undertrays have to come off for an oil change which will eat up time. Service parts themselves are fine - generic Renault. Windscreen wipers truly eye watering (£100 each) - they have a clever built in spray system which saves water. I'm going to see if the old school Peugeot ones with an external spray bar can be made to fit. 

Overall luggage is /ok/ - not Cayster league though. If you're not tall, you can fit quite a bit behind the seats. Complete lack of cubby holes/in cabin storage, but I bought some velcro nets that fit nicely on the firewall for glasses etc. Have a week away with SWMBO in September and will be interesting to see how lightly she can pack :)

JonT
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As for the driving experience - I think if you just have a short testdrive, the car will undersell itself (a bit like my daily, a BRZ). The genius of the car is the lotus-like ride. I've had a couple of Lotuses (S1 Elise, M100 Elan) as well as the Caterham, although it's been a few years inbetween owning either Lotus. But the way the Alpine can cover ground is uncanny. I remember the first time I took SWMBO out in it, we were on some back roads heading from Cambs up to Derbyshire and my wife looked across at the speedo and said "oh, I didn't realise we were going /that/ quickly" Rofl

Coming from the BRZ where you have to wring the nuts off it to be making good progress, with lots of mid-range torque and a nice close ratio box, the Alpine is much less effort to be going very quickly. Coupled with the ride that seems to get smoother the quicker you go, it's truly uncanny on fen roads and the average B-road. And that's coming from the BRZ that I thought rides well.

The other thing is of course the lightness. An M2 Comp is a Caterham heavier than the Alpine Hehe And as we all know, that benefits everywhere. Much like a caterham, the ability to change direction is brilliant. Yes, it rolls and pitches a bit because it's set up softly and the engine is high up, but there's not so much weight this is a problem. 

Ideally if you're testing one, try and punt it down some roads you know, then you'll have something to compare against. If you're serious, I think they can be quite good about giving you an extended test. 

The overall cabin feel is mostly excellent. There are some cheap and nasty touches (like the volume colum stalk straight from a 1990s Clio), and it's probably not Porsche league, but certainly better than many.

Oh yes, the elephant in the room; the auto gearbox. For me, not an issue - never having owned an auto, I specifically wanted to learn how to drive one, including things like left foot braking. Again, forgo your predjudices and try it. The ratios are short, the changes snappy and yet smoother than a PDK in sport mode. In fact it's almost as short as the 6 speed caterham box, albeit with a 7th for cruising. So it can keep you quite busy and is still fairly interactive to drive. Or stick it in auto for the daily grind.

 

James B
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A great review, Jon.  Captures what I understand to be the essence of the car.

I hope that Geoff sees this and does the right thing!

James

tangomikeromeo
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The A110 is the one thing I'd chop the caterham for.  Yet to get to a test drive so not been up close to one - what's the head and shoulder room like? 

JonT
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Head room is generous - the Alpine MD was 6ft5 and insistent he should be able to get comfortable in it. But I think he was quite slim too. So shoulder room, a little less generous, although if you're heavily built it's hip room you might need to watch. The lightweight 1 piece seats are quite snug. The comfort seats are wider, but much heavier (~10kg vs 30kg per seat IIC). They do get seat heaters which I slightly miss, although as the seat back is alcantara it's not as cold as leather. Personally (5ft10, 11.5stone), the buckets are fantastic.

The fixed seats have 3 height positions but need a security torx bit and some time to adjust as they have to be unbolted - I think most demo cars are specced with the comfort seats for that reason.

Martin J
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Many thanks for starting an A110 thread Jon. Good to hear your experiences, there is also quite a lot on the Alpine club forum. 

Nice to hear it from a caterham owner though. That does seem a rip off for wiper blades. A lot has been said about the lack of manual gearbox but with a limited devlopment budget to hand why not just get it right with DCT. I gather the gear ratios are unique to the car also.  

If I was to bite the bullet and get one sadly my caterham would have to go. Built it from a kit 13 years ago so it has become one of the family but I feel in need of a change. I would like a car that my wife would enjoy driving to. She has driven the caterham just once in all those years and while she drove it well & smoothly she has never wanted to drive it since (unlike my daughters and their boyfriends who are desperate for a go)  

You mentioned the slow & clunky IVI. I have never had Apple car play etc in any of my cars so perhaps I would not miss it.  Went car shopping with older daughter & boyfriend last week & their top priority above all others was the infotainment system, it must be an age thing. 

JonT
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The problem is that it's a touchscreen - which mean grubby mitt marks, but also it's hard to hit in the right place as you're bouncing along (and be sure you've hit it, given the slow response time). You can control quite a bit of it from the column stalk which helps (although again, that's horribly done - "hold this button for 5s to activate function 'x'" - but function doesn't change until you let go of the button and find out whether you got the timing right or it does /other thing/ Rolleyes )

Then there's the turn ignition on -> default to radio regardless of what you were last listening to. 

I don't really do carplay/android either; but the big advantage to me would be that you always get the latest maps from your phone, rather than being stuck on whatever version was last added by the dealer before your free updates run out/you stop using the dealer for servicing. And you can run Waze, which I'm told is handy for being warned about scameras, even if you're not having it navigate you.

/luddite - I actually really like the double din set in the BRZ. I call it my "fisher price" radio. It has a single line LCD, turns on instantly, and physical buttons to do stuff. Along with the digital clock in that car, it strikes me as the sort of thing that might survive a nuclear holocaust, unlike all the modern TFT displays etc.

(oh yes, another niggle on the alpine - the lights don't have "off", only "auto", "on" and sidelights. And the display brightness is a fiddle so if you set it for night, you can't see it if the lights are on in daylight; set for daylight and it's too bright at night. But instead of a simple rheostat, you've got to muck around with column stalk menus to change it)

Martin J
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There is some speculation that Renault may close the Alpine factory in Dieppe as they look for multi million euro bail out.

That would be a huge shame.

Sumo
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Philip Ambrose member no. 5869 since 2002 location Cotswolds

Derek Batty
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It's in French ,,,,,only just mastered English just about 

Derek

Martin J
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Derek, A google translate box should pop up when you click on the link. Top right of the screen, then its readable