Renault is betting its fledgling Alpine performance car spin-off can take on the likes of Porsche and Mercedes-AMG in the electric age.
The French giant has announced that there will be no more Renault Sport hot hatches in the future, signalling an end to affordable performance cars such as the Megane and Clio RS.
Instead, any performance cars made by the French giant will wear Alpine badges currently found on the niche A110 sports car.
Renault says Alpine is “the epitome of French motoring”, and a brand “with heritage and pedigree”.
But it is relatively unknown in Australia.
While Australia has been a strong market for RenaultSport, Alpine sold just seven cars locally in 2020, delivering a total of 74 vehicles since returning to Australia in 2018.
While the lightweight A110 coupe is critically acclaimed as an outstanding drivers’ car, its six-figure price tag and obscure badge have not translated to commercial success.
That may change when Alpine’s blues replace the yellow of Renault on the Formula 1 grid from 2021, with champion driver Fernando Alonso taking the place of Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo in the team.
The brand promises to have broader appeal in the future, introducing an electric hot hatch similar in size to the Renault Clio or Ford Fiesta, as well as an electric performance SUV with similar dimensions to Volkswagen’s Tiguan and the upcoming Tesla Model Y.
Alpine will also work with Lotus to develop an electric successor to the A110 and Lotus Elise sports cars.
The tiny Renault Zoe electric car has made the French marque an important player in the zero-emissions space in Europe, where it says half of its cars will be electric and more than one-third will have hybrid power in the near future.
Renault kicked off 2021 with an eye-catching concept car based on the classic Renault 5 hatchback, promising to return to its roots with a range of stylish and engaging models.
A spokeswoman for Renault Australia says it is too soon to lock in specific models for the local market.
An updated Alpine A110 S with more power and firmer suspension arrives locally in the first half of 2021, along with a facelifted Renault Megane RS Trophy