Renault has produced a new concept car, the A 110-50, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the appearance of the original A 110 “Berlinette”, one of the most successful of the long line of Alpine sports cars.
The Alpine story started with the A 106 in 1955 and continued well into the 1990s with the GTA/A 610, which finally bowed out in 1995. Alpines always had glass fibre-bodies and rear-mounted Renault engines, although it wasn't until the 1970s that Renault took direct control of the previously independent Dieppe-based sports-car manufacturer. Alpines were always well regarded, but are less well-known in the UK than on the Continent thanks to complications arising from a naming clash with the British Sunbeam/Chrysler/Talbot Alpine models.
The A 110-50 borrows most of its mechanical parts from the Renault Mégane Trophy racing car produced by Renault Sport Technologies, and adapts the Alpine formula for the modern age, with carbon-fibre in place of the traditional glass-fibre and a mid-rear mounted engine rather than a pure rear-engined layout. It is painted in a “reinterpretation” of the famous "Alpine blue" shade. Blue is also the traditional colour of French racing cars, the counterpart of British Racing Green and the silver customarily used by German racers. The engine is a 3.5-litre 400 horsepower V6.
It's not really clear whether the unveiling of the A 110-50 concept heralds a revival of the Alpine marque or not. A new Alpine might give Renault a bit of a lift in the market after it had to prune its UK line-up earlier this year, and act as a glamorous counterpoint to the basic Dacia models the company will shortly introduce here. On the other hand, Renault has a long and distinguished record in motor racing, including in Formula 1 but it's unclear to what extent any of this has rubbed off on the image of the company's mainstream cars, or whether the arrival of some sporty Alpine models would make any difference either.