The Porsche Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C are soon to face a new rival coming from across the French Alps. The new Alpine Vision concept from Renault gives us our best idea yet of what to expect once production finally kicks off next year.
Long living in the shadow of Lotus, British automaker Caterham is keen to make it on its own – though maybe not all on its own. The company that made its name building continuation versions of the iconic Lotus Seven still relies on automakers like Ford and Suzuki to supply its engines, and developed the SP/300.R with Lola, but has been forging a much deeper alliance with Renault.
The rebirth of the Alpine brand is going to have to stay in the womb a little longer, it appears. Autocar learned that Renault's styling mockup was secretly shown to possible clients recently, and the feedback was tepid enough for the French company to send the design back to the drawing board. The delay will likely push the sports car back to a 2016 launch.
It's been a long time since we've seen an Alpine roaring on either road or track, but this year Renault is bringing back the once vaunted marque in a big way. It's got a new sports car under development together with Caterham, but to drum up some enthusiasm and rekindle the spirit of the Alpine win at Le Mans in 1978, Renault relaunched the Alpine racing team in European endurance racing this season. And after an absence of 35 years, the Alpine team has prevailed once again.
Caterham will be radically expanding beyond its core market of track-day specials with a new Renault-based CUV and city car. Following our initial reports back in November, the new models, which we can only hope are as ridiculously sporty as Caterham's other offerings, have been confirmed by Chairman Tony Fernandes to news agency Reuters.
Bulgaria, Brazil and Mexico were three of the countries licensed to build the Alpine A110 under license in the sixties and seventies. With the revival of the former Renault rally racing brand, Mexico, whose Dinalpin sold the earlier iteration, wants to do it again – but this time with no connection to the parent company. It's called Project SST-77 and it is being headed by Miguel Jimenez, with the aims of developing a "low capacity, low weight, agile, high performance" sports car.
Renault believes there's enough Alpine love to restart that brand with its own model almost immediately. The launch of the Initiale Paris luxury brand it's been mulling, on the other hand, will be more restrained: a report in Autocar says that instead of launching with a first model based on the Mercedes E-Class architecture, Renault is going to introduce an Initiale Paris trim line on the new Clio and Espace. More accurately, that should be 're-introduce and aggressively market,' since Renault
This is the Alpine LMP2 competitor you'll see contesting European endurance races this year, including The 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Parent company Renault showed off the N36 racer at its atelier in Paris, the blue and orange a switch from the yellow, black and white livery Alpine wore last time it was seen in Le Mans way back in 1978 when it won the race.
Renault isn't letting up with the return of its Alpine brand. After announcing a partnership with Caterham to bring a new Alpine to market by 2015 (now expected by 2016), the French firm has announced it is taking Alpine racing again in the European Le Mans Series this year – and that includes The 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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