Show stop­per

A two-seater with a rich his­tory is set to lead Re­nault’s re­nais­sance in per­for­mance mod­els

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - PAUL GOVER CHIEF REPORTER paul.gover@carsguide.com.au

CROSS your fin­gers now and wish for Aus­tralia to get the sauci­est French sports car in decades.

Alpine has just re­vealed the mid-en­gined two-seater that will be­come the spear­head for a Re­nault re­nais­sance in per­for­mance cars, as well as pro­vid­ing a halo car for the whole com­pany.

The Alpine Vi­sion con­cept to make its de­but at the Geneva mo­tor show next month fol­lows an ear­lier teaser ma­chine un­der the Alpine ban­ner.

But it is much more than win­dow dress­ing, with up to 80 per cent of the car‘s fea­tures likely to make it into to fullscale pro­duc­tion in 2017.

The ques­tions about right­hand drive and ar­rival here are still to be an­swered but Re­nault Aus­tralia is con­fi­dent. The com­pany’s Emily Fadeyev says: “We’ve put for­ward a strong ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est for Alpine and it’s look­ing pos­i­tive. But it is not con­firmed. There has been talk about the UK, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia. So if you don’t have right-hand drive ...”

The Alpine Vi­sion comes as Re­nault also con­firms a man­age­ment change that will pro­pel the model on to the road.

Bernard Ol­livier, a Re­nault vet­eran who led the orig­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Alpine and drafted the res­ur­rec­tion plan, has now been re­placed as com­pany CEO by Michael van der Sande, pre­vi­ously se­nior vice-pres­i­dent for global mar­ket­ing at Re­nault. He plans to tap a grow­ing global de­mand for pre­mium sports cars that will dou­ble sales by 2020.

Re­nault is pulling ev­ery heart string it can, tak­ing the Alpine Vi­sion to the French Alps as well as the scene of some its great­est mo­tor­sport suc­cesses on the clas­sic Monte Carlo Rally.

But the pro­ject has not run com­pletely smoothly. The orig­i­nal plan for a part­ner­ship with Cater­ham — the Bri­tish sports car com­pany that was also in­volved in For­mula One — floun­dered as the grand prix op­er­a­tion owned by Malaysian

busi­ness­man Tony Fer­nan­des went bank­rupt.

The Vi­sion show car has a sleek pro­file, lead­ing with a rounded bon­net with twin round head­lamps and end­ing with a con­spic­u­ous rear wing.

More im­por­tantly, it is pow­ered by a tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gine that can launch it to 100km/h in less than 4.5 sec­onds.

The cabin is a mix of lux­ury and per­for­mance ma­te­ri­als, from ex­truded alu­minium to top-grade leather for the seats. The driver can cus­tomise the dis­plays on its touch­screen.

In a piece of show-car theatre, the en­gine can be started only af­ter a safety pin has been re­moved.

Pro­duc­tion of the Alpine will be at the Dieppe fac­tory al­ready used by Re­nault Sport, which is set for a ma­jor mod­erni­sa­tion.

Retro touches: Blue con­cept, above, echoes Alpine’s Le Mans liv­ery; A110, along­side Vi­sion, was a rally sta­ple in the 1960s and ’70s

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