The Alpine A110 was one of the most stunningly beautiful and dynamically capable cars of the 1960s. Released in 1961, the car was competitive for over a decade, winning its first rally championship in 1967, and the inaugural World Rally Championship in 1973. Therefore it’s no surprise that the A110, and the Alpine brand as a whole, are considered to be French icons.
Renault purchased the Alpine brand in the same year as that inaugural World Rally Championship win, and produced a range of road cars over the next 22 years, but things were not to last. After the sales disaster that was the A610, Renault decided to retire the classic Alpine moniker in 1995, a real loss for French car culture and fans of quirky sports car design.
Well thankfully, after a very long wait, Alpine is back - well, nearly. At a special event in Monaco - a location synonymous with Alpine’s Monte Carlo rally success - Renault has just unveiled its new Alpine Vision Concept. Heavily inspired by the classic A110, the Vision is very close to being a production ready vehicle. The car will make its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month, with a production version being unveiled before the end of 2016.
According to Autocar, the plan is to relaunch the Alpine brand with a full range of vehicles, including an all-new SUV; a risky move when the brand is so closely tied to elegant design and pared back minimalism. However, it appears that Renault has selected the right man for the job. A new team has been set up to build the Alpine brand, with the main leader being Bernard Olliver, a former Renault Sport chief. And as we all well know, Renault Sport knows what it’s doing.
First impressions are overwhelmingly positive. Olliver appears to understand the key prerequisites of an Alpine, telling Autocar that: “A real Alpine means the DNA of Alpine, which is light, fast and fun to drive,” and that Renault believes “a new Alpine should be firstly a modern car, with a modern design and modern technology, and secondly a car which also shows the heritage.” Sounds good to us. And from what we’ve already seen, the Vision seems to follow this ethos.
Specifications are being kept under wraps, but we do know some key details. The engine will be a turbocharged four-cylinder - most likely a tuned Clio RS motor - the kerb weight should be around 1100kg, and the car will be able to hit 62mph in less than 4.5 seconds. The concept also features steering wheel-mounted flappy paddles, which indicates that the car will have an automated gearbox; we just hope the gearbox it’s better than the terribly laggy system fitted to the Clio RS.
The cabin appears to be targeted at a more upmarket customer, with a mixture of leather, carbonfibre and aluminium. A TFT screen also helps to keep the interior as minimalist as possible. Renault has expressed that the price will be around £40,000, making it a competitor for the new BMW M2, Porsche Cayman, and the older, but still capable, Alfa 4C. We think the concept looks phenomenal, and we can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the full production version when it’s released in early 2017.