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Alpine goes FWD and electric

10 months ago

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Writer:

Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder

Date:

9 May 2023

What’s next for Alpine? We’ve been wondering exactly that ever since we first drove the sublime A110 in 2018. What followed was a more powerful version in the A110 S, then a much more track-oriented model called A110 R, plus a midlife facelift and a number of limited-edition variants – all of them A110s of one kind or another.

Now we know Alpine will follow those up with its first EV, its first hot hatch and its first ever front-drive car, all in one new model.

Alpine goes FWD and electric

Why the departure? Alpine may have had a record year in 2022 selling 3500 A110s, but at that level the marque is a minnow, producing fewer cars in 12 months than parent company Renault does in a day. But we know Alpine is being repositioned as the upmarket brand within the group – the rebranding of Renault’s F1 team tells us that – and knocking out a few thousand sports cars a year wasn’t going to cut it much longer.

Alpine FWD

Meet, therefore, the car that’s intended to be Alpine’s first volume seller, the A290. An electric crossover coupé will follow very soon to complete a three-model line-up (the A110 is due to be replaced by an electric successor in the coming years). Named A290 Beta in full, this EV hot hatch remains a show car for now with the production version due in 2024. We can be confident the striking central seating position will not survive the transition.

Alpine FWD interior

It’s based on the forthcoming Renault 5 EV, shown in 2021 as a concept. I think it looks superb in a squat, four-square, tarmac rally car kind of way, with nothing retro about it, unlike the A110. Alpine hasn’t revealed much about this or the showroom model’s technical specification, but the show car apparently features one electric motor on each front wheel. Based on the group’s CMF-B EV platform, it also has a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension layout.

Alpine goes FWD and electric

The obvious question is just how much of this show car will ultimately make production, and we don’t yet know about performance, battery capacity and so on. But there’s an even more fundamental unknown right now: can a front-wheel drive EV be genuinely exciting to drive, exciting enough to do justice to the Alpine badge? I don’t know the answer to that, but I am glad to see Alpine becoming so much more than just a small-time sports car maker.

Alpine goes FWD and electric

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