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