Cars

Alpine aims for sports car summit

The Alpine name returns to the sports car scene this year with a rear-drive, mid-engined coupe
The Alpine name returns to the sports car scene this year with a rear-drive, mid-engined coupe The Alpine name returns to the sports car scene this year with a rear-drive, mid-engined coupe

ONE of the most hotly anticipated new models of 2017 is the as-yet-unnamed sports car from Alpine, writes William Scholes.

The first offering from Renault's revived performance offshoot is a gorgeous coupe that, in the pictures at least, pulls off the trick of nodding to Alpine's past - particularly the A110 of the 1960s and 1970s - while also looking modern.

Such is enthusiasts' interest in the new car, which has Porsche's Cayman in its sights, all 1,955 editions of a 'Première Edition' launch special have already been reserved. The first cars expected to reach customers at the end of the year.

"Alpines made such a mark because of the elegance of their designs, their nimble handling and their memorable successes in world class motor racing and rallying," said Alpine's managing director Michael van der Sande.

"The interest that the announcement of Alpine's return has generated across the globe inspired us to give sports car enthusiasts and Alpine fans early opportunity to reserve the new car.

"The Première Edition versions of the new model will be the first to come off the line and we wanted to allow Alpine fans to choose the number of their car."

The first customers have had to pay a €2,000 deposit, with the final cost of the car expected to be between €55,000 and €60,000.

Alpine has said the car's 0-62mph time will be a swift 4.5 seconds, and that more technical and performance details will be released soon.

All 1,955 Première Edition versions may already be spoken for, but Alpine has opened order books for the 'normal' version of the production car, for delivery in 2018.

And why 1,955 launch editions? To echo the founding of the company in 1955 by Jean Rédélé, a Dieppe based Renault dealer.

He successfully raced and rallied Renault models in the early 1950s and soon started manufacturing his own sports cars. Glassfibre bodywork, rear-mounted engines, rear-wheel-drive and a stiff 'backbone' chassis became Alpine hallmarks.

Alpine was always closely associated with Renault, and it bought the company in 1973. Alpine won the first World Rally Championship in 1973 with the A110 - that car's styling is a heavy influence on the new model - and also won the Le Man 24 hours race in 1978.

The last Alpine was the A610 sports coupe, with production ending in 1995 as Renault focused its performance car efforts on its acclaimed RenaultSport Clio and Megane models.

The 2017 Alpine will be mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive two-seater, with four-cylinder petrol turbo power.