Renault is preparing to take on the Mazda MX-5 with an affordable mid-engined sports car wearing the Alpine badge, and Autocar’s got world exclusive details on it, together with a detailed artists' impression.
The reborn Renault Alpine, which should appear by autumn 2009, is based on a much-modified Clio platform and powered by a family of small-capacity turbocharged engines, including a 110bhp 1.3-litre and a 130bhp 1.6-litre unit.
A fabric-roofed roadster is thought to be a certainty, while a coupé version is still being investigated. It is likely to undercut its only opposition — Mazda’s MX-5 — by being priced from £16,000
Budget roadster preferred to 350Z-rival
The whole front end of the Clio is being used as a basis for the Alpine. The rear structure is all new. A Clio-derived powertrain will be dropped in between the Alpine’s rear wheels, using a modified version of the Clio’s front subframe as a cradle.
The car’s styling, by a team led by Briton Anthony Grade, uses cues from the classic A110, Alpine’s most successful and well-known model. The car will be built at the original Alpine factory in Dieppe, which is now used as Renaultsport’s base.
Sources say Renault “really really” wants to relaunch the Alpine brand, which hasn’t been used since the A610 supercar was killed off in late 1994. After considering building a more upmarket performance model, possibly based on the Nissan 350Z, Renault’s product planners decided to exploit the experience built up by making the mid-engined Clio V6 and short-lived Renault Spider. Renault bosses have also said they will never produce a sports car that competes with the 350Z.