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Geneva show: Australia not a priority for Alpine A110

Swiss alps: The Alpine stand was one of the most crowded at this year’s Geneva motor show, as punters flocked to get a glimpse of the long-awaited A110.

Alpine reveals all-new A110 sportscar in Geneva but ADRs thwart Aussie launch


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9 Mar 2017


ALPINE’S reborn A110 sportscar has officially launched at the 2017 Geneva motor show this week and order books are now open for European and Japanese customers, but an Australian debut for the hotly anticipated all-new model remains far from certain.

Alpine managing director Michael van der Sande has revealed to GoAuto that launching the A110 in Australia was a lower priority than other markets, meaning the Renault-owned brand’s lightweight sportscar may not be launched here until 2019 – if at all.

“We haven’t decided yet (to bring it to Australia), because we wanted to go one step at a time,” Mr van der Sande told us at the A110’s unveiling in Geneva.

“We are a relatively small team at Alpine and our brief is to be good before we’re big, so right now we’re focusing on being good with the car within our world.

“We’re starting with 12 European markets plus Japan over the next 12 months and then after that we have a wish-list of countries that, of course, has Australia in it, but we haven’t decided yet because we want to make sure we don’t overeat ourselves in the beginning.”

Mr van der Sande said that Australia’s unique homologation requirements (Australian Design Rules) meant that the A110 had to be modified before it can be sold in this market, taking time and resources away from production.

“Australia has some specific requirements, as you know, that vary from European requirements and we just didn’t want to do everything at the same time,” he said.

“They (ADRs) are quite strict, but that won’t prevent us from doing anything.

Anything is possible.

“We can do anything we want, but we can’t do everything so we decided to focus on Europe plus Japan – which very closely follows European homologation rules, as you know – and then when we get a bit of oxygen, we will think about other markets including Australia.”

Mr van der Sande said production at the factory in Dieppe, France, where the A110 will be built alongside the Renault Clio RS, can accommodate anywhere between 1000 and 10,000 vehicles per year.

Built on an aluminium platform, the A1100 tips the scales at just 1080kg and measures 4178mm long, 1798mm wide and 1252mm in height, making it lighter and more compact than its Porsche Cayman rival, but slightly larger and heavier than the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Motived by a mid-mounted turbocharged 1-8-litre four-cylinder engine – a tweaked version of the 1.6-litre unit found in the Clio RS – the A110 benefits from a bespoke air intake, new turbocharger, revised exhaust system and upgraded engine tune.

Peak power is rated at 188kW and maximum torque at 320Nm, which, when combined with its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, is enough to accelerate the diminutive sportscar from 0-100km/h in just 4.5 seconds.

Drivers will also be able to toggle between three different driving modes – normal, sport and track – to remap engine, gearbox, steering and stability settings on the fly.

Suspension is handled by double wishbones front and rear, while all-aluminium four-pot front and single-piston rear Brembo brakes stop the 18-inch Otto Fuchs forged aluminium wheels.

To launch the new car across Europe, Alpine will open around 60 dedicated showrooms to serve as a point of contact for customers, as well as a means of differentiation from its Renault parent, according to Mr van der Sande.

“What was key to us was that the customer for this type of car is very passionate and very knowledgeable, and if we dilute the sales and the servicing of this car too much, first people just won’t have the volume of engagement to become expert,” he said.

“So, what we’ve chosen to do for Europe is to build a network of around 60 dedicated Alpine centres and of course we use a lot of the back-office infrastructure ... of Renault, but the principle will have a network of dedicated Alpine dealers who will be dedicated to the car.”

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