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Renault gives Alpine the thumbs up

Mountain high: The Alpine Vision concept is said to represent 80 per cent of the final design of the first Alpine production car in more than two decades.

Finally, Renault’s Alpine sub-brand to launch in 2017 with lightweight sports coupe


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17 Feb 2016

RENAULT has pushed the start button for its Alpine premium sportscar brand, saying the first Alpine model, closely based on its latest lightweight, mid-engine Vision concept coupe, will go into production by 2017.

Australia is a near certainty to get the hand-built Alpine range, with Renault Australia saying it has had “positive responses” to its request to launch the standalone marque here.

The unnamed two-seat sports coupe will be the first production road car to carry the Alpine badge in more than two decades, but not the last. Ultimately, at least three models, including an SUV, are expected to carry the Alpine badge.

According to parent company Renault, the first Alpine model will be 80 per cent based on the latest Vision concept, and will be built at the Renault Sport factory at Dieppe, in north-west France, for global markets.

Announcing the long-awaited decision by Renault Group and unveiling the latest Vision concept, Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said motorsports and sportscars were deeply rooted in the Renault DNA.

“Earlier this month we announced our return to Formula One with a Renault team, and today we are announcing Alpine,” he said.

“This is an exciting next step in our strategy to leverage talent and technology between road and track, and we look forward to reaching new customers in the sport premium cars segment.”

Renault chose Monte Carlo – site of some of Alpine’s most memorable motorsport performances – for the announcement, confirming that one of the target parameters of the first new Alpine production car in more than 20 years will have an acceleration target of less than four seconds for the 0-100km/h dash.

Like the Vision concept, the Alpine coupe is expected to carry design cues lifted from the best-known historic Alpine, the A110 Berlinette, including the big, round driving lights that originally were included for competition rallying.

The production powertrain is yet to be confirmed, but no one would be surprised if the production car gets an all-new Renault Sport-crafted four-cylinder turbo mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Low weight will be a key factor in the vehicle’s development by “a small team of passionate experts within Groupe Renault”, the company says.

Heading up the team as Alpine managing director will be Dutch-born marketer Michael van der Sande, who most recently was Renault Group marketing senior vice president. Before that, he had broad experience across a wide range of motor companies, including Nissan, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Harley-Davidson, Tesla and Aston Martin.

“All of us at Alpine are proud to have been entrusted with the task of bringing back Alpine to sports car lovers around the world,” Mr van der Sande said.

“Our job is to faithfully re-interpret famous Alpines of the past and project Alpine into the future with a beautifully designed, agile, high-performance sportscar.

“Our Alpine Vision show car is immediately recognisable as an Alpine yet resolutely modern. We look forward to revealing the production model later this year.”

The design will be led by long-time Renault stylist Antony Villain, whose credits include the current Clio and Captur.

Renault says the team will develop the new car over the next 12 months, but Alpine has promised we will see it before the end of 2016.

The vehicle will go on sale first in Europe, with other markets to follow. As the Renault Sport Dieppe plant is relatively small, the showroom roll out might take time.

Renault Australia corporate communications manager Emily Fadeyev told GoAuto today that the Australian plans for Alpine had yet to be confirmed.

As well, the factory is expected to continue production of the Clio RS in parallel with the new Alpine range.

However, she said Renault Australia had high hopes that Alpine would get the green light for this market.

“We have expressed a very strong interest for Alpine for Australia, and we have had very positive responses so far,” she said.

Ms Fadayev said because Alpine had not yet been confirmed for Australia, not timing had been given.

Originally, the Alpine project was a joint-venture between Renault and the United Kingdom’s Caterham, but Renault bought out Caterham’s half in 2014.

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