Excitement is building prior to the official launch of Renault’s Alpine A110-50 Concept on tomorrow’s Monaco grand prix ‘rest day’, and whilst the images look great, it’s probably worth reflecting on the most recent models to be produced by Alpine’s Dieppe factory.
Take a look at Renault’s teaser picture and you’ll notice the 1970’s Alpine A110, a car which competed successfully in the 1971 Monte Carlo rally and went on to win the World Rally Championship outright in 1973.
Success. That’s what Renault are seeking to recapture with the A110-50 Concept, which has been built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the A110 Berlinetta.
But of course the A110 wasn’t the last car produced by Alpine’s Dieppe factory, the rear-engined 2+2 Alpine A610 coupe ended production in 1995, whilst the Renault Spyder was produced there between 1995 and 1997. I remember driving one of the last A610’s for a feature in Performance Car that year, but the combination of turbo lag and its awful gearbox made me eager to swap its keys for the Porsche 968 Sport we had on the same test.
Renault’s Spyder, which launched Jason Plato’s career into BTCC, was created in the mid-90s to promote Renault’s sporting credentials and whilst its mid-engined handling was inspired, it arrived in a market already defined by the Lotus Elise – but weighing 200kg more. To add insult to injury, the Spyder was initially offered without a windscreen or roof, sealing its fate as a car which Renault just couldn’t sell.
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So what can we expect of the A110-50 Concept?
While the Alpine factory’s recent history might not be something to brag about, the fact that Renault’s new sports concept is inspired by the A110 should provide some comfort. Unlike previous Renault sports cars, the A110-50 will be developed by Renaultsport but sold under an Alpine badge – so the hugely talented team responsible for the Megane 265 and Clio RS are behind this new car.
The A110-50 Concept is based on the tubular chassis and rear-mounted 395bhp 3.5 litre V6 engine from Renault Megane Trophy racer, but with a body based on Renault’s DeZir concept – first shown at the 2010 Paris motor show. However, unlike the DeZir we expect the A110-50 to use a conventional combustion engine and proven components.
We’ll learn more about the A110-50 Concept when it’s officially revealed by @Renault_Live at 13:00 CET tomorrow. Let’s hope our optimism is justified and that Renault finds a way of bringing it to production at a price real enthusiasts can afford.