Another 'back for the future' brand has just landed in Australia, this one promising the potential to punish Porsche.
It’s a relatively obscure French sports company called Alpine, which was a giant killer in the 1970s but faded rapidly after that.
Now it’s been saved by its French parent, Renault, which is hoping to graduate Francophiles from speedy Clio and Megane RS hatches into a serious sports car.
The born-again A110 was unveiled at Melbourne's Motorclassica car show alongside an original A110 from the seventies.
The new car is significantly bigger than the old-timer, like all modern cars, but both share an obvious heritage, similar four-lamp frontal styling, and French racing blue bodywork.
“You cannot appreciate the new car without knowing the history of the original,” says Moore. “In Europe, there are already 6000 back orders for the car. It’s a good thing to make some noise.”
The Alpine A110 is closest in concept to the Porsche Cayman, coming also with a two-seater cockpit and a mid-mounted engine with old-fashioned rear-wheel drive.
Priced from $97,000, the basic Alpine Pure undercuts the Porsche but the starter car for Australia runs up to $106,500 for the Premiere Edition with a bundle of extra equipment including Sabelt racing seats, carbon fibre parts, a sports exhaust and 18-inch alloy wheels.
“We’ve got 60 cars and the first boatload has just arrived. We’ve got 32 cars already sold,” the managing director of Renault Australia, Andrew Moore, tells Australian Business Traveller.
The Alpine is an official Renault project but the mechanical package and assembly of the car is the responsibility of Renault Sport, which operates – as it has done since the 1970s – from the small French town of Dieppe.
The A110 picks up the turbocharged 1.8-litre engine from the Megane RS, but tweaked for 185 kiloWatts and good for a 4.5-second sprint 100km/h.
The big key for the Alpine project is the car’s light weight, which is achieved with everything from aluminium and carbon fibre parts to seats which save precious grams without any height adjustment.