Renault Nepta (Alpine)
Porsche 'baby Boxster'
Toyota Sports Hybrid concept (MR2)
Fiat's new £20,000 Abarth roadster will face tough competition with rivals from VW, Porsche, Toyota and Renault. Here, Autocar looks at four of the budget sports cars the car will have to beat.
Porsche ‘baby Boxster’Created to allow the Boxster to move up in size and to make the VW BlueSport programme more cost-effective. It remains on schedule for a launch in 2012.
New Porsche boss Matthias Mueller is an expert product-planning strategist who has been a supporter of the BlueSport plan, which includes models from VW, Porsche and Audi based on a single mid-engined platform, and around 100,000 vehicles per year.
Baby Boxster could sneak under £30,000, as long as the firm is happy for one of its cars to have a turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant.
Toyota ‘MR2’Toyota’s new brief is to make cars that people want — and a successor to the mid-engined MR2 is at the heart of the new ‘emotional’ product plan. The car was scheduled to use a V6, but the success of Honda’s CR-Z has persuaded Toyota to use a hybrid system based on a 1.5-litre petrol engine.
Toyota’s sports car efforts won’t end with the MR2, though. In tribute to its chief tester, Hiromu Naruse, who died in a road accident earlier this year, the firm is also turning a hot hatch concept into an ultra-cheap, front-engined, rear-drive coupé.
Renault AlpineRenault’s new design chief, Laurens van den Acker, has reignited plans to build a rear-drive Alpine coupé. “Any car maker with a broad product range should have room for an affordable sports car,” he told us. Insiders say the model under consideration is close to the Alpine A110 ‘Berlinette’ in spirit, and it could be on sale within three years.
A potential assembly site for the Alpine could be the Renaultsport factory in Dieppe. Its manufacturing commitments have eased following a decision to put the hot Mégane down the regular line in Spain.
Volkswagen BlueSportVolkswagen is on track to provide one of the Abarth sports car’s key rivals in the shape of the BlueSport, due in 2013. The BlueSport’s engines will be from the VW Group’s latest EA888 line-up, a range that serves the Golf and Scirocco.
The VW version is likely to get a new turbocharged 1.6 FSI motor that can offer up to 220bhp when fitted with an Audi variable valve lift system. Transmissions will be standard six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG units, codenamed DQ500.