- First drive: Alpine A110 Legende GT
First drive: Alpine A110 Legende GT
- Tad more cosseting than the standard car...
- ...but just as fun to drive
Not so great
- You pay a premium
- Restricted to two shades of paint
- Doesn't feel that much quicker than standard
What is it?
A great advert for why every car on the road should weigh circa 1100kg, also known as the Alpine A110 Legende GT. Ironically, it is a heavyweight in Alpine circles, nudging the scales to 1134kg versus the 1098kg of the standard sports car.
Justification for this weight rise comes from the specs because the Legende GT is fully loaded. Inside, you get six-way adjustable Confort Sabelt seats, leather with grey stitching and a Focal stereo.
Outside, there are 18-inch diamond-cut wheels, gold details and translucent rear LEDs. Matt Mercury Silver Paint is the icing on the cake, although you can also go for the Abyss Blue available on the rest of the range.
Not interested in trinkets? Then you should know that the Legende GT is the first A110 to get the S model's 292PS engine in combination with the standard car's softer suspension setup.
If that idea tickles your fancy, you'd best be quick – only 300 Legende GTs are available worldwide, a handful of which (ten at the last count) are available in the UK.
That S model didn't seem to work so well – what's the story with this Legende GT?
First-rate Alpine knowledge. It's true, the S – a harder-edged interpretation of the A110 recipe – wasn't universally drooled over as much as the standard version. But it was close.
People (okay, car journalists) felt its hard suspension corrupted the A110's ability to breathe with the road surface, turning it into a Porsche Cayman equivalent rather than offering something different.
It only takes a few yards to understand exactly what they meant. Cosseting springs mean the Legende GT creams over bumps and oscillations that a Porsche brutalises into submission. In the Alpine, it's almost like you're floating over the Tarmac, as you hear the tyres working underneath you.
Meet some corners and the A110's body movement lets you know exactly what's happening beneath you, giving cause and effect between your actions and the car's reactions. It's full-dialogue driving to the edited highlights you get in the stiffer-sprung S.
You still get the S model's extra power, but while a 292PS – up 40PS from standard – might sound like a lot, it doesn't deliver the wholesale change you might expect.
It gets from 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds – just a tenth of a second quicker than the standard car, with acceleration that feels a tad more urgent the faster you go. Honestly, you'd need to compare the cars back to back to really notice.
Nonetheless, it's a great engine that provides decent get up and go from 2000rpm and gets ever more urgent as the rev counter's needle spins to its 6400rpm redline. Yet it intertwines this usability with exhaust splutters, turbo spools and wastegate hisses that leave you gagging for more.
Could get a bit wearing every day, surely?
Never ever. The Alpine A110 – particularly this more luxurious Legende GT model – gets the balance between fun and usability just right.
Drop into the cabin and you'll find the driving position is spot on, the stereo is decent and the seats are very comfortable. Sure, it doesn't have the tank-like construction of a Porsche, but it doesn't have the wet-paper-bag integrity of a Lotus, either – leather covers much of the cabin and there's decent sound deadening. Neat touches like the toggle switches and tricolour details make up for the fact that plastic quality isn't brilliant.
The compliant suspension that makes the A110 feel so unique in bends, also makes it extremely comfortable over long distances. The steering is quick, but it's also light – its hint of elasticity shielding your wrists from the worst the road has to throw at it – and the gearbox shuffles through its gears without drama when you're just mooching along.
This mooch-ability is mostly down to the engine. With a maximum of 320Nm of torque available from just 2000rpm, the Alpine doesn't need to be wrung out to an inch of its life just to make progress. When you're not in the mood, it'll amble along contentedly.
Sound like the Legende GT is the best A110 yet?
Well, yes and no. It makes the A110 an even more well-rounded package and of course, adds genuine exclusivity that all but guarantees future classic status. It gently shapes the A110's character, rather than changing it.
Worth the near £13,000 premium you'll pay over an entry-level pure model? That's a matter of personal taste – you'll certainly not be disappointed if you do buy one.
Us? We'd save a bit of cash, swap the power hike for proper bucket seats and go for the Tulip Noire painted, Gold Serac alloy-wheeled model that was also available to test on the day we drove the Legende GT. Whatever A110 you choose, you'll always be onto a winner.
Watch: new Alpine A110
Alpine A110 Legende GT: the facts
Model tested: Alpine A110 Legende GT
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol
Gearbox: six-speed dual-clutch
Combined fuel economy: 41.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 159g/km
Price from: £61,655
As tested: £64,807
The Alpine A110 is very good – is a nimble two-seater sports car that's got plenty of performance and – with two small boots – is relatively practical for its type.
Yes, the Alpine A110 is made at Renault's factory in Dieppe.
The Alpine A110 Pure is the entry-level model with a starting price of £49,005.