The new Alpine A110, the French mid-engine wonder, has been receiving almost nonstop praise for its lithe chassis and great balance of analogue thrill and daily drivability, and at times this tends to obscure its classic roots and motorsport heritage.
While the 2017 car honours many of the original’s core philosophies, particularly with its high regard for lightness and directness, characteristics such as its far less powerful rear-mounted engine have been set aside for a more traditional transverse mid-engine layout.
It’s arguable, however, that the iconic A110 from the 1960s and 70s sported a dynamic profile that was gave it a unique advantage in rallying. That hasn’t stopped Alpine from committing the present-day A110 to a rally-spec treatment, though.
Following the debut of the A110 Cup and GT4 versions, the French automaker reckons their newest creation is fit to pursue the same prolific rally career as its famed namesake precursor, a car that secured top positions in the World Rally Championship and outright victory at the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally.
First presented recently at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, the competition-ready A110 Rally will be available for sale to privateer teams and drivers by the end of the year, presumably in time to populate rosters for 2020.
Alpine has worked with Signatech to convert the road going A110 to a car ready to meet all the rigours of motorsport using the strengthened base of the A110 GT4 and Cup. A new three-way hydraulic suspension has been fitted, as has a new set of Brembo brakes, an FIA homologated roll cage and a Sabelt bucket seat with six-point harness system.
Mechanically, the car retains its 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder RenaultSport-derived engine, though having undergone specific calibration to improve the torque band and peak power, which now stands beyond 224kW.
Its transmission has been replaced by a sequential 6-speed gearbox and limited slip differential that’s far more aggressive with its shifts while giving the driver an extra dimension of input on power distribution and inertial control. Just like the production car, drive is sent exclusive to the rear wheels.
“This return to rallying is highly anticipated as Alpine made history when it won the first-ever World Rally Championship in 1973. To ensure the success of this new adventure, we have entrusted the research and development, production and commercialization of the Alpine A110 Rally to Signatech, our partner as well in the FIA World Endurance Championship and around the Cup and GT4 programmes. The Alpine A110 Rally looks set to be a very fine car to drive and amazingly efficient.” - Régis Fricotté, Alpine Commercial and Competition Director.