When the alarm clock rings at five in the morning, it doesn’t take me long to get out of bed. It’s October, the fog hangs in the lowlands of the Allgäu, the thermometer shows single-digit temperatures. The Alpine A110 GT is waiting in the underground garage, freshly delivered the day before. The goal for the day: ordering a pizza in broken Italian somewhere south of the main ridge of the Alps.
Admittedly, the story could have been more coherent. Taking a French car to Italy for a pizza – for some people, a trip to Alsace for a tarte flambée or a glass of rosé on the Côte d’Azur seems more obvious. But exactly these 244km between Kempten and Sterzing “Vipiteno” offer everything that makes getting up early on a Sunday worthwhile. More precisely – 3 pass roads, countless hairpin bends, stone tunnels and breathtaking views.
Alpine describes its GT version, the A110, as a powerful and comfortable vehicle. As I open the door to the underground garage and walk the 20 metres or so to the parking space, I recall the data – 1.8 litre capacity, 300 hp, locked at 250 km/h, 4.2 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, 1119 kg light. As I fall into the Sabelt comfort seats, the numbers are forgotten for the time being. Since the 2022 model year, Alpine offers three versions of the A110. The basic A110 with 252 hp, as well as the 300 hp A110S and A110 GT. As the model designation suggests, the differences between the two versions lie primarily in the chassis tuning.
After about 2 hours on the motorway and country road, we reach the Timmelsjoch, the first pass road of the day. We have about 30 bends ahead of us – but it doesn’t take two to notice the low weight. When do you still drive modern cars that hardly weigh more than 1100 kg? Rarely. In comparison: the competitor from Zuffenhausen weighs about 300kg more. At about 2 degrees and continuous rain, we reach the top of the Timmelsjoch pass. The hope that we would escape the bad weather with today’s ride seems to gradually vanish into thin air. We quickly take the obligatory picture in front of the pass museum before heading downhill again on the other side.
Time to recap the last 30 bends. What is striking is that the Frenchwoman offers surprisingly good traction. With the systems switched off, you can play with the oversteer, let the rear end dance on the exit of the bend. Briefly correct the steering and get back on the gas. The precise, smooth steering, combined with the weight distribution of 56% in the rear and 44% in the front, quickly inspire confidence and create an unmistakable, unique driving character. Even before the last bend just before the top of the pass, the Brembo brake system shows no signs of fatigue.
With the realisation that we have crossed the border into Italy, we allow ourselves the thought of an espresso for the first time. A few hairpin bends further down, somewhere between Corvara and Moso in Passiria, we order three espressos. Three, because a colleague from Innsbruck has joined us with his Boxster on the Timmelsjoch. His first comment at the table, that the A110 sounds good and is above all loud, is one I can endorse. Although the exhaust roar in the interior is a bit annoying when the load changes.
How far is it to Lake Garda ?
We quickly come to the conclusion that we had imagined something different in terms of the weather. After all, we are already in Italy, south of the main ridge of the Alps, but the temperatures are still in the single digits and the rain is unstoppable. At the same time, we receive a photo from Lake Garda with the message: “The sun is shining here at 22 degrees”. We pull out our mobile phones and calculate the route to Riva del Garda – 160 kilometres to go. What are 160 kilometres in a GT? Without thinking twice, we change our plan. ETA: 17:30 in Riva del Garda. The siesta of our local pizza baker ends at 5pm. Perfect timing. The route first takes us over the Jaufen Pass to Sterzing, our original destination. At a roundabout before entering the town, we now take the first exit onto the autostrada towards Modena. For a second, the thought crosses my mind how long it would take to reach the sea.
“The sound of the intake in the window triangle as I accelerate out of the tollbooth is like a pat on the back of the head. On the positive side. The thought of the sea has disappeared.”
As the cloud fields slowly dissipate and the first rays of sunlight fall on the Alpine blue, the question of the sense of the journey also disappears. The feeling of escaping the bad weather is too good and the anticipation of “mangiare” too great.
The question of the Alpine A110 GT’s suitability for long distances is finally answered for me at the “Rovereto Sud-Lago di Garda Nord” exit. The 400 kilometres or so don’t feel like the same, especially when you consider that you’re sitting in a 1.27 m flat sports car. The seats offer excellent lateral support in curves and are not too hard, even on long motorway stretches. Exhaustion or jitters before the later change of direction and the 400km long journey home are non-existent.
Bella macchina or belle mécanique?
No matter how you want to pronounce it. The design of the Alpine A110 is something special. For me, the homage to the old, legendary Alpine A110 is more than successful. The unmistakable four headlights of the Alpine have remained. In keeping with the times, these have been equipped with full LED technology as standard. The eyes of Italian passers-by quickly fall on the Frenchwoman. “Ah the Alpine guys” shouts a group of youngsters who had overtaken us earlier somewhere on the Autostrada. Of course, in true Italian style, far above the speed limit.
It’s 17:30 sharp when the order for 2x Pizza Cappriciosa and a Pizza Diavola goes through the counter. The goal seems to have been reached. The actual goal, as cheesy as it may sound, was once again the way. 244km became 400km, but every kilometre was enjoyable. Whether on the motorway, mountain roads or in city traffic – the Alpine A110 GT is a real all-rounder. But the French car feels most at home in the mountains. There you quickly understand how irrelevant performance data becomes as soon as a manufacturer focuses on lightweight construction. Compact, agile and comfortable – a car for connoisseurs with a penchant for the extraordinary.
Alpine A110 GT
Engine: 1.8L 4-cylinder turbo engine
Power: 220 kW (300 PS) @6,300 rpm
Weight: 1119 kilograms
Acceleration: 0-100 km/h in 4.2 s
Vmax: 250 km/h Max.