There’s noticeably more spring in the car’s step when you’re off and rolling. The A110 S picks up a shade more urgently than the regular A110 and seems to rev more freely and urgently. Moreover, since it’s running in considerably less boosty tune than when appearing in Renault’s Mégane RS, the 1.8-litre motor has much better throttle response and linearity of power delivery than it does in other applications. It still sounds a touch flat and workmanlike by £50k sports car standards, but not so much as to be an obstacle to enjoyment.
Low-speed ride is plainly firmer than in other A110s, with the occasional jostle and thump disturbing the car around town. At greater speed, plenty of fluency returns and you wouldn’t say this is a particularly firm-riding car by wider sports car standards. But that really distinguishing sense of suppleness and ride dexterity that a regular A110 has, which allows it to deal so well with British B-roads taken around the national speed limit, is harder to detect.
Much improved body control, sharper and even more instinctive-feeling handling response, better mid-corner stability and more braking stability are what the A110 S delivers in return for that sacrifice – although most of the gains will require track use to fully appreciate them.
On the road, the car is crisper and keener on turn-in and has slightly meatier steering, with less of the flightiness of feel of a regular A110 around dead centre. Unlike the standard A110, it’s also not a car you worry will bottom out through a fast compression. Those should be considered unqualified dynamic improvements by anyone’s estimation.
On the circuit, the A110 S stays flat and level under much greater load than an A110 manages; doesn’t roll into oversteer unless you absolutely mean that it should; and can carry quite a lot more speed with it wherever it goes. But whether any of that makes the A110 S more fun will depend mainly on the sort of driving you like to do on track days, and where exactly you like to do it. It certainly makes the car more dynamically competent. Quite a lot less nerve-jangling somewhere like the Nurburgring too, I should think.
It doesn’t make it the sort of sports car, sadly, that can be teased to lurid extremes of oversteer quite as easily as the regular A110 can be, though, because it isn’t quite as easily to stabilise at that deliciously indulgent angle of mid-corner attack (witness my road tester’s sad face). The A110 S’s stiffer set-up and greater tyre footprint allow it to do serious track pace much more effectively than an A110, but handling playfulness notably less so.