A fiery French fancy is ready to make a comeback – and Auto Express can reveal exactly what Renault fans have got to look forward to!
Take a peek at the firm’s next big thing: the all-new Alpine, set to go on sale in the UK in around 2010. As well as targeting the likes of Mazda’s MX-5, it aims to tempt buyers away from more costly rivals such as the Nissan 350Z. As our picture shows, the modern-day Alpine harks back to the past for inspiration, with cues from the Sixties A110 sports car.
Our contacts in France have come up with fresh information about the project that will help to relaunch one of Renault’s best-loved cars. The Alpine will draw fans into showrooms and let the firm cash in on its impressive motorsport heritage.
While recent reports suggested the Alpine badge would be used on many models as the answer to Honda’s Type R or VW’s GTI, we can confirm the nameplate will first appear on a stand-alone car. And it’s sure to turn heads.
Designers are busy putting the finishing touches to the body, but engineering work is also well underway. Most of the testing is carried out in secret, although our spies have snapped a Mégane-based mule doing hot laps at Germany’s Nürburgring. Shown here, the blue hatch appears similar to a standard Renaultsport model. But look closely and you will see widened wheelarches and prototype rims.
Piling on the development miles will be crucial to give the Alpine handling to match its sharp styling. Power is likely to come from a compact turbocharged petrol engine, and reports suggest this could be mid-mounted for optimum cornering balance.
The existence of the two-seater has already been confirmed by a senior figure at Renault. He told Auto Express: “We will introduce a small sports car and use our grand prix image to sell it. Formula One has a high level of safety and reliability. We want to produce a road model with the same qualities as our race entry.”
But the car won’t be as extreme as the old Sport Spider, which was axed in 1999 after its hardcore character prevented it from being a mainstream success. Offering greater practicality and refinement, the modern Alpine-badged model is set to be a sports car suitable for everyday use.