Renault has made no secret of its plans to revive the Alpine brand and the French manufacturer will reveal a new Alpine concept at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race later this week. The return of the marque will begin with a two-seat sports car tipped for production in 2016.
Known as the AS1, the concept is expected to be an thinly-veiled version of the production model due next year, and will be the sole work of Renault after plans to develop a sports car in conjunction with Caterham fell through in 2014.
In an exclusive interview with Renault executive vice president, Bruno Ancelin, Auto Express previously learned a family of Alpine models is being planned, which would follow the arrival of the brand’s sports car – shown here in our exclusive images – in 2016.
Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, Ancelin said: “We are working on the first car, and out of the first car we are working on the line-up. So model number one, which we call the AS1 – Alpine Sport 1– we need to see further and [then we’ll] look to the complementary models we will have in the line-up.”
Ancelin isn’t taking the revival of the historic Alpine brand lightly either – he spoke openly about Audi and Porsche as its premium sporty rivals. To ensure Renault can compete at that level, Alpine is assessing all options to make it work, including taking expertise from alliance members Nissan and Daimler.
Any details of specifications or pricing for the Alpine sports care remain firmly under wraps, but rumours and our digging suggests it could cost up to £50,000, with power estimated at around 300bhp and light weight the key focus to give Lotus something to worry about.
Plans to revive the Alpine name were first revealed back in 2012, when Renault and Caterham joined forces to co-develop a new sports car. Last year, however, the two brands parted ways, with Renault taking full control of the project. The project suffered a further setback in summer 2013 when Carlos Tavares, then Renault COO and the driving force behind the Alpine resurrection, departed to become president of PSA Peugeot Citroen.
Those bumps in the road haven’t affected Renault’s momentum in developing and delivering an entire new model range, with the possibility of a more practical Alpine and hybrid tech also under consideration.
“What we are sure of is that we cannot revive a brand or create a brand with a single model. It’s not sustainable to have a single model, it’s impossible,” said Ancelin.
“For example, if you want to be sustainable in some markets you need a hybrid in the line-up. We’d have highly differentiated models.”
Ancelin would not be drawn on how much the future Alpines would differ from one another, but did state that to ensure sustainability of the brand it has to be open to various ideas.
“Which technology and which kind of engines do we need, which kind of body styles, will all of them be sporty cars or will some of them be SUV?” he said. “We must address all these questions.”
One thing Ancelin didn’t shy away from was reinstating the fact that the first model must be a “low weight and sporty car”. But he was keen to point out that the project will not be rushed and the profitability of the brand must be established first.
Do you think Alpine could have what it takes to rival Audi and Porsche? Let us know in the comments below…