After two decades on the shelf, it looks as though Renault is reviving its racing and sports car subsidiary Alpine with a mid/rear-engine coupe designed to take on the Audi TT and Porsche Boxster. As a prologue to an upcoming production version, the French automaker may bring an Alpine concept to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race scheduled to take place next month.

French publication Challenges is reporting that Renault could go forward with the preview now that CEO Carlos Ghosn has approved a brand investment of some 600 million euros.

The final production car is expected to boast an output of 250 horsepower and cost somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 euros ($34,058 and $39,735 at current exchange rates, 2015). Citing an unidentified source involved with the sports car’s development, Automotive News Europe is reporting the new Alpine will be lightweight and source several technologies through Renault’s corporate partners of Nissan and Daimler. Production is scheduled to begin at the end of 2016, with 3,000 units rolling out annually, up to 5,000 per year if demand dictates.

So far, the Alpine restoration has suffered several setbacks, first when Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares, the project’s primary supporter, moved to Peugeot as CEO in 2013, then again last year, when Renault ended a partnership with Caterham to develop the Alpine over financing issues.

Meanwhile, Renault remains tight-lipped, declining to comment on the Challenges report.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Even though it’s been heavily involved with Formula 1 for years and years, Renault feels like it needs an image boost, hence the reappearance of the Alpine brand. Founded in 1955, Alpine was known for competing (and winning) in rally racing and sports car racing for decades.

Founded in 1955, Alpine was known for competing (and winning) in rally racing and sports car racing for decades.

Notable vehicles include the A110, aka the “Berlinette,” which was built between 1961 and 1977. Outfitted with an engine from Renault, the A110 was considered one of the fastest rally cars of its time, becoming the first World Rally Champion after the series was created in 1973. 

Alpine continued to enjoy a good deal of success, both in competition and in production sales, for years afterwards, but in the mid-90s, profits plummeted, prompting a discontinuation of the Alpine name.

But now Renault needs a superhero in its lineup, and will use the Alpine brand as a means towards that end. The new sports car should certainly help, but the marque will also follow it up with a new SUV to give us a double dose of performance. 

Will it work? We’ll have to wait to find out, and we’re still a long way away from seeing a new Alpine badge in dealerships, but so far, the company is pushing through setbacks with dogged determination, offering us a variety of gorgeous concepts in the meantime. On the surface, things seem to be heading in the right direction, as the GT6 Vision GT Sports Car and A110-50 both look stellar. But concept gloss can be deceiving.

Stay tuned for more.

2012 Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept

2012 Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept High Resolution Exterior
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We saw this concept vehicle put through its paces with a public appearance at the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix, and suffice to say, people were impressed. With a name that acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the famed Alpine A110, the A110-50 concept is powered by a drivetrain plucked from the 2009 Renault Megane Trophy,, sporting a V-6 out back that produces 400 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed sequential gearbox routes the muscle, while 21-inch wheels and Sachs dampers sit in the corners. The exterior design draws from the Renault DeZir concept presented at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, complete in classic blue and orange livery.

Read our full review here.

Source: Automotive News

Jonathan Lopez
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