November 29, 2021

Why the gendarmerie chose the Alpine A110

The Interior Ministry confirmed this week the acquisition of 26 Alpine A110s to equip the national gendarmerie. Lieutenant-Colonel Beretti talks about what the police expect from the French sports coupe.

It is a decision that has aroused many reactions this week: the national gendarmerie will (again) ride in Alpine. The “new A110”, launched in 2018, was indeed chosen by the Ministry of the Interior to integrate the rapid intervention teams.

A small consecration for the French brand founded by Jean Rédélé in 1955 and on which the Renault group relies today to offer sporty models, models soon to be converted to electric. After the A110, which will switch to a zero-emission version, the brand based in Dieppe (Seine-Maritime) should then offer an SUV and a supercharged version of the future R5, two 100% electric vehicles.

A complementary vehicle to the Seat Leon Cupra

The purchase of a model offering only two seats may have surprised some. However, it is indeed a vehicle of this type that the gendarmerie was looking for.

“This call for tenders related specifically to a 2-door coupe, a vehicle complementary to the Seat Leon Cupra, 4-door, of which we have already taken delivery of 17 units as part of the replacement of the Renault Mégane RS”, summarizes the lieutenant-colonel Beretti, of the road and rail traffic section of the general directorate of the national gendarmerie.

The Seat Leon Cupra of the gendarmerie
The Seat Leon Cupra of the gendarmerie © Seat

The replacement of a French brand model, the Mégane RS, by its Spanish-German competitor (Seat, belonging to the Volkswagen group), had indeed caused some controversy in September 2020. Controversy quickly evacuated by Lieutenant-Colonel Beretti :

“There was no disappointment with the Leon Cupra: the acquisition of Alpine models aims to offer an alternative at the level of intervention teams.”

In detail, the specifications set by the gendarmerie for this call for tenders were based on three axes: the ability to carry out certain missions, performance and environmental constraints.

Regarding the missions, the press release from the Ministry of the Interior referred to “interventions on the motorway, involving high-speed infringing cars, as part of road safety or judicial police missions (drug trafficking, for example)”.

Why not an electric?

Another point to underline, that of environmental constraints. Despite the increasingly strong incentives to convert the French to 100% electric, this engine was obviously still unlikely for rapid intervention teams, in order to maintain “good operational capacity”. And there is currently no zero emission sports coupe on the market.

“In this context, we looked for the vehicle in this category with the lowest possible environmental impact for the category,” explains Lieutenant-Colonel Berreti.

With an empty weight of 1.1 tonnes, the Alpine A110 is indeed often praised for its lightness, like its ancestor from the 1960s who had already joined the gendarmerie platoons at the time.

A featherweight allowing it to limit its CO2 emissions, 144 g / km for the Pure version chosen by the gendarmerie, a penalty of 280 euros this year, 450 euros next year. For comparison, the Seat Leon Cupra, which is no longer sold because the Cupra brand is now separated from Seat, emits 154 g / km (898 euros 2021 penalty) and the current Renault Mégane RS 184 g / km ( 7,086 euros 2021 penalty).

Another criticism concerning this choice: a model which would not be cut to face the biggest delinquents of the road at the wheel of overpowered cars.

The A110 Pure has a 252 horsepower engine in the rear center position, showing on paper 250 km / h top speed and 0 to 100 km / h in 4.5 seconds. Without knowing if the Alpine adapted for the gendarmerie will be able to go beyond these announced performances, the representative of the gendarmerie underlines the choice of an “agile vehicle”, highlighting its “very good weight-power ratio”. Enough to make it a vehicle suitable for the missions that will be entrusted to it:

“On most of the most powerful vehicles, even for German models, the top speed is often restricted to 250 km / h, or you have to pay an option to unlock this restrictor. We were looking for a nimble vehicle, suitable for the missions that we have to fill in. For excessive speeding, the pilots are specially trained, the Alpine remains a good tool to stake out, that is to say to keep visual contact with the fleeing vehicle to spot a possible exit of the motorway , explains Lieutenant-Colonel Berreti. The idea is no longer to intercept him directly, but to follow him, in order to organize his arrest on the rest of his journey, for example “.

While it is becoming relatively urgent to replace the aging Mégane RS, we do not yet know the delivery time and the envisaged date for the first handing over of the Alpine keys to the gendarmes. The context of a shortage of semiconductors and the preparation of the vehicle by the Durisotti company also complicate this estimate of production time.

While several unofficial visuals are circulating on social networks, we do not yet know the specific screen printing that these vehicles will adopt. Logically, it should approach the dressing of the Peugeot 5008 which recently equip the gendarmerie, as well as the national police.

Among the equipment that will be found on board, the Ministry of the Interior has mentioned a communication radio, a beacon / 2-tone siren duo, penetration lights (specific lights located at the front of the vehicle) or another variable message sign at the back.

Who will lead them?

There are 51 rapid intervention teams in France, distributed throughout the country, with missions at the level of major roads and motorways.

“It’s a fairly selective formation, with around 150 pilots in our ranks,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Beretti.

We had already mentioned this selection process in 2019, with the first woman to join this prestigious brigade: among the conditions, you must be under 35, have 3 years of service, pass selection tests and training.