As you’ve seen in the Alpine Concept photo gallery yesterday, Renault is relaunching the Alpine brand with a retro-styled sports car that should compete with the Alfa Romeo 4C, the Porsche Cayman and the Lotus models. The production model will arrive in Europe in 2017 and will look very similar to the concept, as about “80% of its style” is reflected in the concept, according to design director Antony villain. The sports car will be a precursor to a full line-up of premium cars and SUVs under the Alpine brand, including hybrids. This is a similar strategy that Alfa Romeo has implemented with its return to the North American market: start with a low-volume halo-car and then follow up with a range of volume models which can than benefit from the sporty image that the sports car has given the brand.
It is reported that the Alpine will be sold in five continents, which had gotten American media all excited, but it isn’t clear whether this concerns the production version of the sports car (perhaps under different brands, for example Infiniti or Nissan in the US, where Renault is not sold), or if it means the Alpine brand with its full line-up. That would actually make more sense, because I don’t really see the point of launching a lightweight driver-oriented sports car in continents outside of Europe, North America and Australia. Car buyers in South-America, Asia and North-Africa are not at all interested in such a vehicle, especially from an unknown brand. And not only because most roads in those places aren’t really suited for it in the first place.
In line with its competitors Alfa 4C and Lotus Elise, lightness is an important aspect of the car’s character, as it will weigh around 1.100 kilograms and is rumored to be powered by a 250 horsepower 1,8 liter four-cylinder engine, derived from the 1,6 liter unit in the Renault Clio RS and which should also power the next generation Megane RS. However, what I consider to be a missed opportunity is that it isn’t a fully electric sports car. [Read more…]