I hope to have many great drives in it, but I know already I’ll have many bloody awful ones, too, sitting in heavy traffic, or simply tedious ones droning down the motorway, because that’s life. How will such a tightly focused car fare? If it does well, it will prove you really don’t need to compromise your driving pleasure; if it doesn’t, the A110 will go down as a wonderful idea that works far better in theory than in practice.
The car came to us in base spec, which used to be called ‘Pure’ but now, post its facelift this spring (which was scarcely a facelift at all), has no further nomenclature beyond ‘A110’. The options spend was modest (see box right), at around 4% of the purchase price, but had it been me ticking the boxes, I’d have dispensed with them all save the parking sensors.
What would I have chosen instead? Perhaps Thunder Grey paint in place of Alpine Blue, but that’s about it. No need for the big brakes on an 1100kg car, and not even I am sufficiently nerdy to crave the optional telematics pack, which can tell me the steering wheel angle I’m fairly sure I can see for myself.I would love the slim panniers that fit down the sides of the seat as somewhere to store stuff in the cabin because there’s precious little room elsewhere, but they don’t seem to be available any more.
A mate who had them on his pre-facelift car said they were a game-changer. And the jury is out on the comfort pack: I’d quite like the speaker upgrade it brings, but it’s the comfort seats with adjustable backs I’d covet most. The standard buckets, which only slide to and fro, may prove restrictive on long runs. The only slightly odd thing about the specification are the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.
They’re good enough boots for sure, but the next one up the range, the Pilot Sport 4 S, is the best all-round performance tyre I know, and I’ve tried them on cars as diverse as a Ford Focus ST and a Ferrari 296 GTB. There’s no way I can afford a set to try out for myself, but after winter, and if Renault and Michelin are happy, I’d be really interested to see what they brought to the party.
They are not an original equipment tyre for the A110 – though strangely the far more extreme track-focused Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 is – but in theory at least they should be perfect. For now, I’m just looking forward to getting to know the Alpine a little better, which shouldn’t take long. Regulars will remember I’ve just got out of a Mercedes S-Class, whose widgets and gadgets were still surprising me six months in. Technologically, the A110 is an abacus by comparison.