Probably not the A110 S in these conditions. There’s a reason that Alpine reckons the regular model will outsell the S by three to one (an unusual ratio when it comes to top-spec variants), and it’s all about use on roads like these.
The S is a different kind of A110, not a better or worse one. Its ride is more tied-down, no doubt, and with that comes more stability. It’s impossible to say precisely how much each mechanical modification is responsible for each dynamic characteristic change, but there’s more focus and more steering feel, weight and accuracy. Also more fidget and conventionality, though.
If the regular A110 feels like it was designed with nothing else in mind, the S seems more ‘normal’. If it had come out first, you’d have sworn it had been conceived with a Porsche benchmark in mind. Quicker? Perhaps, but the extra urge is at the top end so, in these conditions and on this road, you don’t notice much of it.
Then there’s the Life110. A halfway house? Yes and no. In some ways, it’s just different again – simply another nuanced option. But in tone, it’s more ‘regular improved’ than ‘S wannabe’.
The ride is ever so slightly firmer than the standard car’s, although not by nearly as much as the S, despite it riding even lower. It’s a shame to lose some of that plushness, but the A110 has plushness to spare and there are big gains to be had elsewhere. The steering is the biggest, with more precision, self-centring and road feel than a regular A110. So the Life110 feels more responsive when you turn and is more composed, while the magic of the regular A110’s agility, plus nearly all of its waft, is retained.
There are conditions, then, in which each variant would be best. I could imagine some big cheeses being presented with all three, having to decide which they ought to sell and saying ‘er, all of them?’.
But if I had access to them all, with the kind of driving I do, I suspect I’d drive the Life110 most, the A110 next often and the A110 S the least – while wondering what Pook’s geometry and wheel but not spring changes would be like on the standard car.
Dieppe or Stuttgart?
Given the A110 S feels like a more conventional mid-engined sports car than the regular A110, as if it were developed with a rival in mind, lining it up alongside that rival feels the right thing to do.
Step forward the Porsche 718 Cayman T, the nicest of the turbocharged four-cylinder Caymans. It starts out life as a 2.0-litre model and then gets a load of options that you could throw at the standard car but would cost you more in individual add-on fees if you did.