Weighing not much more than 1100kg at the kerb the Alpine is unusually light for a modern car, and that, combined with double-wishbone suspension all round, is at the very heart of the A110’s sophisticated way of getting down a bumpy down. I may well have driven a car that was as good as this one at dealing with an uneven, broken road surface, but I have certainly never driven one that was better.
There is something about the way this car feels when you turn in to a corner – the harmony between the rate at which it rolls onto its outer edge and the way it rotates towards the apex – that means the best kind of road is one that never stops twisting and turning. Perhaps the one thing that really makes the Alpine rewarding to drive, though, is its grip, or rather the relative lack of it. The tyres, Michelin Pilot Sports 4s, are reasonably narrow and, rather than being ultra-sticky, trackday-style rubber, are simply performance all-rounders. That means they hold on just about hard enough that you can lean on the chassis and carry good speed along a road, but when you do overstep the mark they don’t give up their grip so suddenly that you’re sent flying into a hedgerow. Instead, they do so in a beautifully progressive and predictable way, which means you feel as though you’re getting everything out of the A110 without having to frighten yourself.
Every one of those handling behaviours is there for a reason. From the outset, the A110 was designed and engineered to be satisfying and engaging to drive on the road. It never set out to be the fastest car in overall terms orthe quickest around a lap, and to drive realise that it is a much better car because of it.
Of all the models in McLaren’s line-up, the 570S is perhaps least burdened by the need to be fast around a lap or quicker than the next supercar to 100mph. It is the one that has been developed to be fun to drive on the road, and in that sense it shares a key commonality with the Alpine.
After the A110, the 570S feels like a rocketship. Having said that, the 570S feels like a rocketship after most cars. And most rocketships, for that matter. Its performance is so explosive that you find yourself gripping the steering wheel harder and your eyes widening more and more whenever the engine spins through 6000rpm. Its steering is so much more connected than the Alpine’s, its soundtrack both richer and louder, and all of that combined means the overall driving experience is a more intoxicating one. I’m not quite convinced it is actually a more fun experience, however.