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France’s revered sports car brand is back and chasing some heavyweight scalps

There’s something distinctly Herculean about Renault’s revival of the Alpine brand.

Here’s a French sports car manufacturer that hasn’t actually manufactured a sports car – or any car, for that matter – in around two decades. And yet the target that this Lazarus of the automotive world now has its sights set on with its first production car since 1995 is a true sporting giant: the Porsche 718 Cayman.

Arguably the most prominent nod to the 1969 A110 Berlinette is the new car’s twin front headlight arrangement. Don’t expect any old-fashioned tech here, though: it’s LEDs all round.

Welcome, then, to the new Alpine A110.

We first caught wind of a revived Alpine back in 2012 but it wasn’t until four years later – with the launch of the Alpine Vision concept in Monaco – that we were presented with an idea of what such a car might look like. And credit where credit’s due, the resemblance between that concept and the Première Edition car you see here is almost entire and complete.

The more important resemblance by which this new A110 will be judged, of course, is to one of the prettiest and most distinctive sports cars of all time: the A110 Berlinette of 1969, designed by the great Giovanni Michelotti.

The original A110 was the truer realisation of founder Jean Rédélé’s vision of a lightweight, compact, highly agile sports car given to excel on mountain passes than anything that came after it and it was the car that enabled the Alpine-Renault team to claim the World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title in 1973.

It is through these same virtuous instruments of lightness and agility that, a resurrected Alpine will hope, the new A110 can become the champion of its segment.

The car was born out of a joint venture with Caterham Cars in 2012 that was subsequently axed in 2014, so Alpine’s parent company, Renault, now shoulders the burden of investment and risk of effectively launching a sports car brand from scratch all on its own.

But if the venture proves successful, it could be expanded to bring us a family of Alpine models – particularly if all the talk of ‘ambitious plans for the future’ among Alpine executives is to be believed.

The A110 certainly has its work cut out to force its way in among cars like the Cayman, Lotus Elise, Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW M2 and Audi TT RS. But, as you may remember reading, the early signs have been very promising indeed.

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