Cars > Electric

Alpine unveils its idea of an electric urban sports car

The A290_β will hit showroom floors next year

Alpine is back with a dose of retro-futuristic coolness for its latest hot hatch. PHOTO FROM ALPINE

Alpine is one of those eternally cool names in the world of automobiles that lesser brands can only dream of. From the early A110 in the ’60s and the A310 in the ’80s to the current A110 version, these French sports cars have always been très chic, even if seeing one on public roads is still a relatively rare occurrence.

That could be about to change, though, as the carmaker has just presented its vision for a compact electric sports car with the A290_β. It’s called “Beta” as this is not quite the finished product yet, but already close to what we will see in showrooms around a year from now. If this is the future of EVs, sign us up!

This is the first model to preview Alpine's latest naming convention. PHOTOS FROM ALPINE

The A290_β follows in the tire tracks of the futuristic Alpine Alpenglow concept car, and essentially gives us an idea of what hot hatches will look like in an electrified future. It picks up the looks of the legendary Renault 5 Alpine from the ’70s and is expected to be on the market by the end of 2024.

This cute little speed hunter also introduces us to the new naming convention of the brand, with the A still remaining but then is followed by a number ‘2’ symbolizing smaller cars of the B segment, and then the ‘90’ for the future lifestyle range.

No official performance figures have been revealed, but it has to be a fast car to live up to the Alpine name. PHOTO FROM ALPINE

Alpine calls this concept an Urban Sports Car, which does sound a bit like an oxymoron, but it’s a pretty one so we’ll let them off. The Alpine A290 will essentially be a sportier version of the new Renault 5, and consequently a dynamic city runabout. Both cars are based on the new front-wheel-drive platform CMF-B EV, which now serves as the basis for future electric small and compact cars.

The electric Renault 5 will also be available at the end of 2024 when it will replace the Zoe, which has been a popular EV for a good 10 years now. Unfortunately, Alpine doesn’t want to reveal the exact performance data yet. Only that it comes with a multilink rear axle setup and two motors on the front axle, and that it features torque vectoring and a boost function to give you an extra bit of power for 10 seconds.

Think of it as a Renault 5 on steroids and protein powder. PHOTOS FROM ALPINE

The exterior of the 4m-long, 1.85m-wide, and 1.48m-tall A290 is already strongly reminiscent of the Renault 5 and will likely not change much for the production car. The key differences are in the details, where things like the X-shaped headlights give a nod to the racing history of the brand and will hopefully remain for the finished car.

Of course, this race-ready cockpit won't make it into the final production model. PHOTOS FROM ALPINE

Currently, the prototype is a two-door, three-seater machine with a central driving position as you’d find in the McLaren F1. The version that will go on sale is likely to be a little tamer and feature four doors as well as four or five seats in a traditional configuration.

The current cabin is also very much stripped down, making the concept more of a racing car than anything you could drive on public roads. The settings for the lights and the emergency stop button are located on the roof above the driver, and the whole cabin has a proper cyberpunk jet fighter cockpit look about it. Huge touchscreens as we know them from other cars are mercifully absent.

Can this cement itself as a legendary name like its predecessors? PHOTO FROM ALPINE

The A290_β is painted in a special shade of white, but the production car will likely be available in all the usual Alpine colors, including the French national colors. The short wheelbase and the wide track should ensure agility and better stability at high cornering speeds.

If the price is right, then the future of the hot hatch might just be glorious and French.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.