An affordable rear-drive sports car from Renault could be on the road within three years, Autocar has learned.
That’s assuming that the passion of the company’s new chief of design can be translated into a real, signed-off production model.
Newly installed vice-president of corporate design Laurens van den Acker says he not only thinks Renault should be making a compact, affordable sports car, but also that the chance to make it lies in Renault’s strategic alliances.
“Any car maker with a product range as broad as ours should have room for an affordable sports car,” van den Acker said. “The challenge to design a great driver’s car is very exciting. It won’t be easy to make a strong business case, but through Renault’s global alliances, I believe it will be possible.”
Renault insiders admit there have been several aborted projects to create a new ‘Renault Alpine’ sports car since the year 2000. The latest, a proposal that shared many of its design cues with the 2006 Nepta concept, was cancelled in 2007.
Our first preview of the latest Renault sports car is likely to arrive as part of van den Acker’s recently announced ‘life cycle’ of concept cars. One of the six expected show cars will be aimed at a notional Renault driver “taking time out to play”, he said.
A Renault insider told us, “The car we’re considering is a compact, affordable coupé — a closer match for the Alpine A110 ‘Berlinette’ than anything else.”
Most of the existing platform technology of both Renault and Nissan would impose a front-mounted engine on the car, but if Renault were to negotiate with new alliance partner Daimler for access to the next Smart Fortwo’s rear-engined platform, a more faithful successor for the four-cylinder A110 might be possible along the lines of the last Smart Roadster Coupé.