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Old 11-28-2007, 06:54 AM   #1
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Default Renault aims at MX-5 with new Alpine

Renault aims at MX-5 with new Alpine


Renault is preparing to take on the Mazda MX-5 with an affordable mid-engined sports car wearing the Alpine badge, and Autocar’s got world exclusive details on it, together with a detailed artists' impression.

The reborn Renault Alpine, which should appear by autumn 2009, is based on a much-modified Clio platform and powered by a family of small-capacity turbocharged engines, including a 110bhp 1.3-litre and a 130bhp 1.6-litre unit.

A fabric-roofed roadster is thought to be a certainty, while a coupé version is still being investigated. It is likely to undercut its only opposition — Mazda’s MX-5 — by being priced from £16,000.

Budget roadster preferred to 350Z-rival

The whole front end of the Clio is being used as a basis for the Alpine. The rear structure is all new. A Clio-derived powertrain will be dropped in between the Alpine’s rear wheels, using a modified version of the Clio’s front subframe as a cradle.

The car’s styling, by a team led by Briton Anthony Grade, uses cues from the classic A110, Alpine’s most successful and well-known model. The car will be built at the original Alpine factory in Dieppe, which is now used as Renaultsport’s base.

Sources say Renault “really really” wants to relaunch the Alpine brand, which hasn’t been used since the A610 supercar was killed off in late 1994. After considering building a more upmarket performance model, possibly based on the Nissan 350Z, Renault’s product planners decided to exploit the experience built up by making the mid-engined Clio V6 and short-lived Renault Spider. Renault bosses have also said they will never produce a sports car that competes with the 350Z.

The planners and designers decided to exploit the memory of Alpine’s original models, which were rear-engined, fibreglass bodied and powered by small-capacity engines. Alpines were also noted for their lightness.

Renault has surmounted one of the biggest hurdles in the way of using the Alpine badge, by securing the UK rights to use the name. The rights previously belonged to Peugeot-Citroen.

Another mid-engined Renault

Renault has a considerable amount of experience in building small mid-engined cars, based on its supermini of the day. In 1980 it launched the Renault 5 Turbo, which was powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine mounted where the rear seats should be. The first few hundred off the production line were designed to meet Group 4 rally regulations and one example won the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally. The follow-up Turbo 2 was cheaper to build, but just as potent.

It took a decade and half for Renault to follow up the wild R5. The 2001 Clio V6 was powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine, also mounted behind the front seats, but was far more sophisticated than the R5 and much heavier. But it is a relatively short step from the Clio V6 to building a genuine sports car, as Rover showed in the mid-1990s.

The 1995 MGF was developed at a time when Rover was on a shoestring budget. Popular demand for a revival of the MG badge was high, and the success of the Mazda MX-5 made it commercially tempting.

Rover engineers turned to the Metro to provide the budget basis of the car. The frontal structure was more or less carried over. The rear structure from the bulkhead backwards was new.

The Metro’s interlinked Hydragas suspension and subframes were also carried over and the mid-mounted K-series powerpack was, in effect, lifted from the nose of the Metro.

Although the MGF required its own skin, John Towers, then boss of Rover, claimed development costs were so low that they had decided not reveal them.
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:44 AM   #2
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please bring it to the US!
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:02 AM   #3
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Ohhh, this looks fun. I heard rumors that Renault might make a comeback to the US. This would be a great platform to enter in with...
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:22 AM   #4
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more info: (plus artist rendition)


Revealed: Rebirth of the Alpine

Just as Fiat has revived the legendary Abarth nameplate, Renault is intending to follow suit by breathing new life into Alpine

A fiery French fancy is ready to make a comeback – and Auto Express can reveal exactly what Renault fans have got to look forward to!

Take a peek at the firm’s next big thing: the all-new Alpine, set to go on sale in the UK in around 2010. As well as targeting the likes of Mazda’s MX-5, it aims to tempt buyers away from more costly rivals such as the Nissan 350Z. As our picture shows, the modern-day Alpine harks back to the past for inspiration, with cues from the Sixties A110 sports car.

Our contacts in France have come up with fresh information about the project that will help to relaunch one of Renault’s best-loved cars. The Alpine will draw fans into showrooms and let the firm cash in on its impressive motorsport heritage.

While recent reports suggested the Alp*ine badge would be used on many models as the answer to Honda’s Type R or VW’s GTI, we can confirm the nameplate will first appear on a stand-alone car. And it’s sure to turn heads.

Designers are busy putting the fin*ishing touches to the body, but engineering work is also well underway. Most of the testing is carried out in secret, although our spies have snap*ped a Mégane-based mule doing hot laps at Germany’s Nürburgring. Shown here, the blue hatch appears similar to a standard Renaultsport model. But look closely and you will see widened wheelarches and prototype rims.

Piling on the development miles will be crucial to give the Alpine hand*ling to match its sharp styling. Power is likely to come from a compact turbo*charged petrol engine, and reports suggest this could be mid-mounted for optimum cornering balance.

The existence of the two-seater has already been confirmed by a senior figure at Renault. He told Auto Express: “We will introduce a small sports car and use our grand prix image to sell it. Formula One has a high level of safety and reliability. We want to produce a road model with the same qualities as our race entry.”

But the car won’t be as extreme as the old Sport Spider, which was axed in 1999 after its hardcore character prevented it from being a mainstream success. Offering greater prac*ticality and refinement, the modern Alpine-badged model is set to be a sports car suitable for everyday use.
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Old 11-28-2007, 12:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by yuephoria View Post
Ohhh, this looks fun. I heard rumors that Renault might make a comeback to the US. This would be a great platform to enter in with...
Why would they do that?
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Old 11-28-2007, 04:41 PM   #6
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Because they could use the existing Nissan dealer infrastructure, which gives them a leg up on Alfa who is facing a bigger hill if they try to use their Ferrari and Maserati dealers.

I'd take a serious look at the Clio and Megane if they were available here.
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