Renault-owned Alpine previewed how it will jump back into the hot hatch segment by unveiling an electric concept car called A290_β. Mostly futuristic but a little bit retro, the design study is closely related to the Renault 5 Prototype also introduced as a concept in 2021.
Wide, low, and muscular-looking, the A290_β (a name pronounced "A290 beta" and chosen to underline the hatchback's status as a show car) brings the spirit of the Renault 5 Alpine, one of the first hot hatches, into the 21st century. It's visibly based on the 5 Prototype, the two concept share their basic proportions and several styling cues, but it gains racing-inspired features including a body kit, center-locking wheels and an extra pair of lights on the front end. We hope you like what you see: Alpine notes that the concept "looks like the production model."
It's a different story inside, where the A290_β features a McLaren F1-like one-plus-two seating layout that places the driver front and center. Sitting on a narrow, heavily-bolstered seat you'd expect to find in a race car, the driver faces a three-spoke steering wheel with a futuristic design and a small instrument cluster. There are a handful of rather odd airplane-inspired touches, like "no step on wing" on the dashboard. Alpine readily admits that the interior is "much more conceptual" than the exterior, and we don't expect any of it will reach production as-is.
The brand didn't provide much in the way of technical details. All we know is that power comes from a pair of electric motors that zap the front wheels into motion (the 5 Alpine was front-wheel-drive, too). Several driving modes are at the driver's fingertips along with 11 different settings for the ABS. Torque vectoring and a multi-link rear suspension should deliver the precise handling enthusiasts expect from an Alpine.
As is often the case, the A290_β is a concept in name only. Alpine has already confirmed that the hatchback will land in showrooms in 2024, which is also when the production version of the Renault 5 Prototype is due out. The brand is considering selling cars in the United States before the end of the 2020s, it could choose AutoNation as a distribution partner, but it doesn't sound like the A290 will be offered here due to its relatively small size. Instead, the American offensive will bring us Alpine-branded crossovers if it receives the proverbial green light.
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