Return of Alpine to Renault stablePOSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 17 February 2016
ALPINE sports cars are back after a 20-year hiatus.
Officials of the Alpine brand (owned by Renault) revealed their latest concept car today, the Alpine Vision Concept.
Production of the road-going version will begin in 2017, the company said, and the production vehicle will share a good part of the design with this concept car — which is expected to have a “halo effect” for the French manufacturer seeking a stronger foothold in the premium car market.
It will employ Alpine DNA — rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive architecture that keeps weight to a minimum. Its four-cylinder turbo will power the car from 0-100 kilometres per hour in 4.5 seconds, Renault says.
The engine, expected to use a bored-out version of the current 1.6-lire turbocharged unit found in the Clio RS is linked to a twin-clutch transmission. The Alpine Vision Concept’s quoted 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time is under 4.5 seconds.
“Motorsports and sports cars are deeply rooted in the DNA of Groupe Renault,” said Carlos Ghosn, Groupe Renault Chairman and CEO at the presentation in Monte Carlo.
“Earlier this month we announced our return to Formula One with a Renault team, and today we are announcing Alpine. This is an exciting next step in our strategy to leverage talent and technology between road and track, and we look forward to reaching new customers in the sport premium cars segment.
“Our goal is to reach new customers in the premium sports car segment.”
Founded in 1954 by a garage owner in Dieppe, northern France, Alpine drew on Renault engines and chassis from its earliest models before selling out to Renault in 1973, the year Alpine won the World Rally Championship – placing first, second and third in Monte Carlo.
The Alpine relaunch is a bold move in keeping with domestic rival PSA Peugeot Citroen’s decision to separate its DS range from Citroen as a new stand-alone brand.
The project has already overcome one false start, when a 2012 joint venture intended to build the vehicles with Caterham, the British niche sports car maker owned by Malaysia’s AirAsia tycoon Tony Fernandes, unravelled two years later.
The revival may not stop at one model, Ghosn said. “To build a brand you need more than one car,” the Renault boss said. “But it’s one step at a time.”
According to Antony Villain, Alpine design director, the design of the concept car reflects 80 percent of the look of the road car.