RENAULT has revealed the latest form of its Alpine Vision, bringing the once-dormant brand yet another step closer to becoming a showroom reality.
Jump on board with Wheels (above) as we join rally ace Jean Ragnotti piloting an A110 at the Alpine brand's revival in France.
Set for a 2016 Geneva Motor Show debut next month, the mid-engined two-seat coupe concept is said to be “80 percent” true to a production version of the A120, slated for a reveal at October's Paris Motor Show after a series of outlandish styling exercises and teasers.
According to Renault spokeswoman Emily Fadeyev, Australia has expressed “strong interest” in the brand, with the outlook being “extremely promising” for a probable release sometime not long after European-market sales start in 2017.
Possessing myriad design cues that hark back to famous heritage Alpine models such as the A110 and A310, the concept includes a traditional coupe silhouette defined by a rounded turret, and 1950s-inspired wraparound rear glass.
Highlighting its aspirations as a Lotus Exige and Porsche Cayman alternative, the Alpine Vision is powered by a four-cylinder turbo petrol engine of about 1.8 litres in capacity, delivering a rumoured 220kW to the rear axle via a dual-clutch transmission for “explosive performance potential” and “phenomenal acceleration”.
This enables 100km/h from standstill in less than 4.5 seconds, aided by a promise of lightness and dynamic agility to match, further underlining the French firm’s driver focus. Speculation also suggests that the coupe’s kerb weight could be as low as 1100kg.
An intimate connection with the car carries through to the cabin, with a low-slung seating position featuring old-school motorsport-style harness belts, though leather, aluminium, carbon, and touchscreen TFT screen brimming with the latest multimedia connectivity technology also suggest modern, civilised luxury.
Renault announced it would relaunch the dormant Alpine brand nearly four years ago, saying it had at last formulated a business model that should see its products sell in solid numbers worldwide. The premium sports car market currently supports about 200,000 units, but projections suggest it could top 300,000 by 2020. Clearly, the French want a slice of that action.
“Alpine’s plan is to satisfy the demand of customers who are looking for a sublime driving experience coupled with upmarket style and elegance,” Alpine product planning director Eric Reymann said. “The customers we are targeting are particularly sensitive to a marque’s history and culture. Alpine will provide them with a unique and legitimate alternative that will live up to their desires.”
Using albeit highly modified versions of conventional running gear found in contemporary Renaults of the time, but sporting a sleek coupe style, Alpine production started with the 1955 A106, of which 251 were sold.
The real volume models were the A110 (7579 made between 1961-77), A310 (11,616 for 13 years from 1971), and GTA (6054 delivered from 1984-90).
The last Alpine was the A610, made for five years from 1990, with 818 coming off the production line in Dieppe, France.
All up, just 26,666 Alpine-badged vehicles were built.