The first image of Renault's new Alpine sports car concept has been leaked ahead of the car's official unveiling on 16 February.
The image, which was leaked via social media, shows the concept's interior for the first time. The new concept will be a spiritual successor to the famous Alpine A110, and is likely to be badged A120. Previous teasers have been accompanied by a short statement, saying: "We wanted to announce our comeback, but some would say we never left."
We can now see the Alpine concept will receive a digital instrument cluster - something alluded to in previous spy photos - and is likely to come with a dual-clutch automatic transmission, judging by the paddles behind the steering wheel. Other features include a central infotainment screen with a standaout analogue clock, and metallic switchgear.
Insiders have already revealed that the production Alpine will be topped by a hardcore 300bhp version within two years - at which time the company is also expected to launch an SUV to capitalise on the booming demand for upmarket high-riding cars.
The high-performance version of the new sports car will follow around a year after the base model goes on sale.
According to reports in the French press, power for both the standard car and the more extreme version is expected to come from the same 1.8-litre TCe engine, located in a mid-rear position just in front of the rear wheels and linked to the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that has been developed for the new Renault Talisman.
The engine is, in fact, said to be based on a modified version of the Clio RS’s 1.6-litre unit, because it is lightweight and allowed the company to save on the development costs of a bespoke unit.
For the fastest version of the A120, power output will be extended from around 250bhp to around 300bhp by more aggressive turbocharging. That should make it a rival for the Porsche Cayman 3.4 S, which has 320bhp but, at 1415kg, is heavier than the Alpine’s expected kerb weight of 1100kg.
The more highly tuned version of the engine will need a heavily remodelled cooling system. Insiders suggest the firm’s designers have taken the opportunity to introduce ducts down the side of the car to improve airflow without disturbingthe front-end aerodynamics. At the same time, the modifications will give the more extreme A120 significantly more dramatic visual presence.
However, the power output of the range-topper is still significantly below that of faster Caymans. Alpine bosses are said to have settled on a formula of offering a greater emphasis on lightweight construction and optimum traction than outright power, because it provides a better link to the firm’s historical successes with the A110.
Many of the Alpine’s underpinnings are said to be made using advanced aluminium construction techniques. Engineers are rumoured to have been set a 1000kg target when the project began in 2013, but this was deemed achievable only if the firm used carbonfibre bodywork, which was too expensive for production.
The most extreme Alpine will receive other visual modifications - including front LED lights with a rally-style cross on them, to evoke memories of the Monte Carlo Rally-winning A110 cars - as well as being engineered for more extreme performance.
Beyond that, external differences from the Celebration concept are said to be minimal, beyond the removal of the racing stickers and the toning down of other racing features, such as the exaggerated tow hook and single-nut racing wheels.