Revived sports car brand Alpine won’t survive on the A110 alone, but the good news is that its second car should be entirely within the spirit of the storied carmaker’s back catalogue.
The Alpine A290_β show car is a look ahead to a future electric hot hatchback from the brand. Set to be based on the upcoming Renault 5 electric supermini, the production version of the A290_β will effectively revive the Renault 5 Alpine from the 1970s (known as the Gordini in the UK).
The original 5 Alpine was one of the world’s first hot hatchbacks, and appropriately, its electric revival will serve as one of the world’s first electric hot hatches too, with only a handful of other brands – among them Abarth with its upcoming 500 and SEAT with its Cupra Born – having tackled the segment so far.
While not production-ready yet, the Alpine A290_β should be a strong player in this burgeoning market. Let’s start though with the unusual name, since A290_β is an indication of Alpine’s naming strategy.
The letter A is followed by 2, indicating the car’s position in the B-segment (that does leave open the question of why, other than tradition, the first number in the A110 is a 1, which should surely indicate the city car “A” segment…), while 90 is apparently a portent to the brand’s future “lifestyle” range (quotation marks ours). The β letter is, as in computing, a reference to the car’s prototype state.
The A290_β in prototype form is effectively a racing car, a little like the mad Turbo 2-inspired Turbo 3E prototype shown recently by Renault, though this one is front- rather than rear-wheel drive. The production car though will be more sensibly based on the road-going Renault 5 EV.
According to Autocar, Alpine will tune the new hatch for agility at low speeds – which bodes well for a B-road thrash – despite an inevitable weight penalty over a combustion equivalent. Autocar also notes the production A290_β will feature torque vectoring to simulate a mechanical limited-slip diff, and has brakes from the A110 sports car. Initially, the car will produce around 215bhp – so right in the current B-segment ballpark for punch.
The show car’s styling will inevitably be toned down for production, though we hope not too much – Alpine’s incorporation of small, square spotlights at the front, mimicking the driving lights of the A110, is a neat touch.
The wheels too hint at the retro design available on the A110, though true to show car form they’re a touch large here; as we all know, one of the key characteristics of a good French hot hatchback (and indeed of the A110) is an ability to breathe with the road surface, so we’ll surely see more tyre sidewall when it hits the road.
It’s set to do that in 2024, around the same time as Renault’s more conventional 5. While the Renault will start somewhere in the £20k range, as the brand’s entry-level car, the Alpine will likely be a chunk more expensive. Autocar suggests a figure beginning with 4, but hopefully Alpine sees fit not to go quite that far.
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