Based on the forthcoming Renault 5, the Alpine A290 is retro-inspired electric hot hatch

Renault has already impressed with its new electric reincarnation of the 5, and now its sister brand Alpine has joined the party with a hotted-up version called the A290. The new car gets more power, comprehensive suspension changes and a suitably racy retro aesthetic that references a number of cars from both brands’ classic models.

The car is the first Alpine hot hatch since the Renault 5 Alpine, sold in the UK under the Gordini name to avoid copyright issues with Chrysler Europe in period.

The A290 shares its basic form factor with the Renault 5 but is slightly wider than its cousin thanks to the addition of a sporty bodykit and wider track. Rear door strakes reference the classic Renault 5 Turbo, while faux driving spotlights house the car’s daytime running lights and feature an ‘X’ motif to evoke the taped lights of older race and rally cars.

The Alpine does not use the same motor as found in the Renault 5, instead driving the front wheels with the unit also found in the larger Renault Megane. The result in the top-spec model is 217bhp and 300Nm of torque and a sprint to 62mph from rest in just 6.4 seconds. To rein in that performance, the a290 borrows the A110 sports car’s four-pot Brembo front brakes.

The Renault 5’s multilink suspension gains hydraulic bump stops and anti-roll bars in the Alpine A290. The car is intended to be playful and fun to drive, with multiple driving modes included and even the option to turn off traction and stability control completely.

Total range from the car’s 52kWh battery is quoted as 235 miles, down from the Renault 5’s maximum range of 249 miles.

The A290 is fitted with 19in wheels, including a set inspired by those found on the Alpine A310 of the 1970s. The car will be offered with a choice of bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, including an EV-specific option and a winter tyre.

Inside, the A290 shares much of its retro-inspired cabin with its Renault counterpart, albeit with some sportier details like an F1-inspired steering wheel complete with overboost button for overtaking. Another detail change is the relocation of the drive buttons to the centre console on a moulding shared with the A110.

The A290 will be available in GT trim with a 178bhp motor, along with an optional Premium pack that adds extra equipment. GT Performance will do without that kit but up performance to 217bhp, while the range-topping GTS combines the most powerful motor with Premium pack goodies. A limited-ediiton Premiere Edition will be available in unique liveries plus a comprehensive kit list.

Prices for the UK range have not been released but a figure around £36,000 is expected as a starting point, with deliveries starting in early 2025

The revival of Alpine: a brief history

Originally founded in 1959, Alpine was the brainchild of Jean Rédélé, a garage owner who had found success racing modified Renault 4CVs. The firm’s first product was the 4CV-based, glassfibre-bodied, Michelotti-designed Alpine A106, soon followed by a 2+2 Berlinette version in 1958.

Perhaps the most famous Alpine sports car of all is the A110 Berlinette, a diminutive sports car based on Renault R8 mechanicals and released in 1963. Light and fast, it was a successful rally car and secured the brand’s very close relationship with Renault.

Forays into Le Mans, as well as Formula Three, Two and One, followed in the 1970s, along with the arrival of the A310 road car. The 1980s saw development of Alpine sports cars continue with the Renault Alpine GTA, a car which then morphed into the A610 in 1991 before bowing out completely in 1995 – and with it the Alpine name, which was retired by Renault.

Renault’s troubles with the Alpine name in the UK were resolved when it bought the rights to use the name in the UK in 2012; later that year, a collaboration between Alpine and Caterham – essentially a 50/50 split of Alpine and its famous Dieppe factory – was announced, with a view to sharing resources for new models for both sports car brands.

Two years later, the deal fell through and Renault bought Caterham’s half back. Some concept cars followed and culminated in a preview of what would become the new Alpine A110 in 2017, along with a relaunch of the Alpine brand.

Styled after the iconic original, the new A110 wowed press and buyers alike with its scalpel-sharp handling, low weight and slick retro design. It arrived on sale in the UK in 2018, squaring up against serious competition from Porsche and Lotus.

The A110’s success as a halo product set the scene for the next phase in Alpine’s revival. Renault Sport was merged into Alpine in early 2021, with the Formula 1 team changing its name and the wider Alpine Racing outfit soon going on to tackle endurance racing in the LMP2 and LMDh classes.

With brand awareness duly boosted – thanks in no small part to a certain Netflix Formula One documentary no doubt – Alpine confirmed its plans for an ‘electric dream garage’ model line-up by 2030.

The A290 is the first of these and is set to be joined by the Crossover GT in 2025; the A110 will be replaced by a new electric incarnation with a roadster option, while the A310 nameplate will be revived for a ‘stylish four-seat coupe’. All of these will sit on Alpine’s own high-performance electric platform.

All in all, Alpine says it will launch seven new models by 2030. In a new-car market where so many classic names have been lost to time, Alpine looks stronger than ever.