Porsche’s dominance in the field might come to an end soon

After several years of rumors and teasing, Renault finally relaunched Alpine and unveiled the brand’s first road-going sports car in more than two decades. To those who aren’t familiar with the original Alpine A110, this new sports car is probably an enigma. The Alpine name doesn’t mean much to the average Joe nowadays, while the fact that it’s developed by Renault doesn’t give it the exposure it deserves. But I think that the new A110 has the potential to become a Porsche Cayman killer, and I’m going to explain why.

For starters, this isn’t your regular higher performance car based on an existing platform. The A110 rides on a bespoke chassis developed specifically for this application, while its lightweight, aluminum body is modern, yet aerodynamic and bears a close resemblance to the original, iconic A110 of the 1960s. In other words, while the Cayman doesn’t have that much history to brag about design-wise, the A110 is based on a vehicle that was launched two years before the Porsche 911. Pretty solid heritage, huh?

But looks are a matter of taste, and as I said before, Alpine is a rather obscure brand after operating as a niche carmaker in Europe only, so let’s move to the things that really matter to a sports car.

Continue reading for the full story.

Rear-Engine Layout with Impressive Power-to-Weight Ratio

Here's Why the Alpine A110 Could Be Renault's Very Own Porsche Cayman Killer High Resolution Exterior
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Heavily based on the old A110 on the outside, the new Alpine also mimics its ancestor when it comes to drivetrain layout. The engine is mounted behind the seats and sends all the power to the rear wheels. It also has a two-seat configuration. So far, it sounds like a solid competitor for the Cayman, but does it have what it takes to give Porsche’s tremendous sports car a run for its money?

The engine is mounted behind the seats and sends all the power to the rear wheels.

Output-wise, it’s pretty close. The newly developed 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder cranks out 252 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, which accounts for a 48-horsepower and 44 pound-foot deficit compared to the base Cayman. But despite being significantly less powerful, the Alpine needs 4.5 seconds to hit 62 mph, which makes it nearly a half-second quicker than the Cayman with the six-speed manual transmission and two-tenths quicker than the PDK version. The latter is more suitable for a comparison since the A110 comes with a seven-speed dual clutch only. Add the Sport Chrono Package to the PDK-equipped Cayman and the sprint takes 4.5 clicks, putting both vehicles on par.

More than 600 Pounds Lighter than the Cayman!

Here's Why the Alpine A110 Could Be Renault's Very Own Porsche Cayman Killer High Resolution Exterior
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So how is it possible that the Alpine is quicker than the Cayman in base form while lacking almost 50 horsepower? The secret lies in the A110’s curb weight. Tipping the scales at only 1,080 kg (2,381 pounds), it’s more than 300 kg (661 pounds) lighter than the Porsche. It might seem unbelievable, but yes, the French managed to build a lightweight car that puts the Cayman to shame when it comes to power-to-weight ratio. Power isn’t everything you know?

The A110 puts the Cayman to shame when it comes to power-to-weight ratio.

But that’s not all. The A110 is also 22 cm (8.6 inches) shorter, which paired with the 44/56 front/rear weight distribution, gives it tremendous agility on the race track. What’s more, while the Cayman has a McPherson strut suspension up front, the A110 is equipped with a double-wishbone setup at all four corners, which is a rare configuration even for high-profile sports cars. Factor in the Brembo brakes and the Michelin Pilot Sport tires and it’s pretty obvious that the Alpine is an agile performer on the race track.

Likely More Affordable in a Similar Setup

2017 Renault Alpine A110 High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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The state-of-the-art technology display continues inside the cabin, where Renault fitted two bespoke Sabelt bucket seats that weigh only 13.1 kg each (28.9 pounds). That’s half the weight of most bucket seats and speaks volume of the massive effort the French automaker has made to conceive the A110 as a pure, race-bred sports car for the road.

There's a big chance that the A110 will retail from less than €55,000.

Granted, we won’t know for sure if the Alpine is indeed quicker than the Cayman on the track, but on paper, it seems to be the car that might put an end to Porsche supremacy in this segment. And it’s not significantly more expensive either. With the Premier Edition priced from €58,500 in France, there’s a big chance that the regular model will retail from less than €55,000. For reference, the Cayman starts from €53,960 in the same country and adding the sport seats, the Porsche Active Suspension Management system, the Sport Chrono package, and the PDK transmission increases the sticker to almost €64,000.

Of course, having a Porsche badge is a big advantage for the Cayman, as well as the fact that Alpine doesn’t offer a manual transmission, but the A110 seems very, very good on paper. What do you think? Let me know in the comments box below.

Read our full review on the 2017 Renault Alpine A110 here.

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