Photo: Jason Dood
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EnduranceandGT visits JCB Alpine Canterbury ahead of official launch

(Photo above: Jason Dood)

The latest Alpine showroom, the 16th location for the brand in the UK, is due to be launched on Marsh 23rd in Canterbury and EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd was invited by Sales Specialist Matthew Pigg to visit Alpine’s latest centre ahead of its official opening.

The Alpine brand, as WEC and F1 enthusiasts will know, was re-launched in 2017 with the introduction of the A110, a car that has earned plaudits from both the motoring industry and sportscar fans alike.

With a history stretching back 70 years, Alpine was launched in 1954 by Jean Rédélé, a Dieppe garage owner who enjoyed rallying the Renault 4CV. Modified by Rédélé, special versions of the 4CV competed at Le Mans and Sebring and after success at the Mille Miglia and Coupe des Alpes, the Alpine brand was created in 1954, the name being derived from its victory in the mountains.

The name Alpine continued to resonate down the years with models such as the original A110, the A310 and the Renault Alpine GTA. The name risked disappearing in the mid-90s but was revitalised in 2017 by Renault with the launch of the current A110 at the Geneva Motor Show.

Alpine A110 GT awaiting collection (Photo: EnduranceandGT)

Today Alpine is known throughout the motorsport world as being the one of only two teams, the other being Ferrari, which compete at the highest levels of both single-seater and endurance racing. Indeed, the company, whose manufacturing base is still situated in Northern France, jointly presented its BWT Alpine F1 Team A524 and Alpine A424 WEC entries at the start of the 2024 season.

Matthew Pigg showed EnduranceandGT the current range of Alpine road cars which starts with the A110 Pure and moves up through the GT, S and R versions. All four models have the same power-plant, a 1.8L four-cylinder turbo, which produces 252 hp and 320nM of torque on the entry level Pure and 300 hp in the GT, S and R variants. The GT, S and R versions have progressively more track-focused set-ups with the R additionally losing 50 kgs of weight to improve its 0 – 62 mph time to under four seconds.

In addition to proudly representing one of the most historic names in contemporary motorsport, Matthew Pigg is also an ardent sportscar racing enthusiast, having first visited the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1989 with his late father. Both Matthew and EnduranceandGT were present at Le Mans in 2023 for the centenary running of the French classic, being members of Sportscar Worldwide, the leading global on-line community for GT and endurance racing enthusiasts. Matthew was also recently present at an Alpine owners club gathering at Bicester Heritage, a venue that not only hosts over 50 specialist automotive companies but also has its own 1km test track.

“I had the privilege of driving an A110 R round the track at Bicester Heritage and I can tell you – losing 50 kgs out of a car that only weighs 1,150 kgs in the first place makes a phenomenal difference to the performance and handling of what was already a very agile car,” said Matthew Pigg.

“In the A110 S we were probably doing 80 to 85 mph before you braked for the hairpin at the end of the back straight. In the R you were knocking on the door of 100 mph. Losing that weight makes a big difference.”

Which isn’t to say that any of the range are sluggish – not by any means. EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd was allowed to drive a striking Fire Orange A110 S which had the added aero-pack consisting of a rear spoiler and front splitter. The car in fully automatic mode is a fun, exciting little sportscar but drop it into Sport to take advantage of the semi-automatic gearbox and the valves on the exhaust open to provide the throaty sound-track you need to accompany some spirited driving.

Although the Alpine A110 is still in its infancy compared to a German manufacturer like Porsche, the company is not standing still. Next in the pipeline is the Alpine A290, an all-electric, all-new GT crossover due to hit the UK in 2025, according to Matthew Pigg.

“The new A290 is going to be an EV and we anticipate that we will receive it in the UK in the early part of 2025,” said Matthew Pigg. “We’ve seen some pictures of the car cold-weather testing in Sweden but the full details of it have yet to be released.”

Alpine A110 San Remo 73 (Photo: EnduranceandGT)

Sitting to one side of the showroom was a gorgeous ‘San Remo 73’ version of the A110. Built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the marque’s 1973 World Rally Championship title and the victory in San Remo by Jean-Luc Thérier and Jacques Jaubert which secured it, the ‘San Remo 73’ is finished in Caddy Blue with red carbon fibre roof. This stunning limited edition would make the perfect Sunday car for those runs down to Goodwood or up to Silverstone.  

If you are interested in sportscars and are in the market for something Porsche Cayman-sized that is different, fun and carries with it a unique motorsport heritage, then a trip to see Matthew at Alpine Canterbury will be well worth your while. It’s not every day that the salesman knows as much about the sporting side of the brand as Matthew does and the range of cars on display is stunning.

JCB Alpine Canterbury is located on Vauxhall Road, Canterbury, CT1 1HD and Sales Specialist Matthew Pigg can be reached on 01227 947252. The showroom hosts its official launch on Saturday March the 23rd.