The automotive industry is in the midst of a paradigm shift, with electric vehicles (EVs) rapidly gaining ground and becoming the preferred choice for environmentally conscious consumers. Alpine, the legendary French automaker known for its commitment to performance and innovation, is taking the plunge into the EV world with the upcoming Alpine Alpine A290. This bold move is set to redefine the hot hatch segment and inject a fresh sense of practicality into Alpine’s lineup while retaining the brand’s unmistakable sporting character.
Breaking Away from Tradition
Alpine’s announcement of the Alpine A290 surprised many, as the car deviates from the conventional three-door hatchback concept that we were all eagerly anticipating. Instead, the Alpine A290 will boast a more practical five-door body style. This decision not only adds versatility to the vehicle but also avoids unnecessary development costs that would have been associated with the standard three-door R5 model.
A Shift Towards Practicality
The Alpine A290’s shift towards a five-door layout represents a pivotal moment for Alpine. It signals the brand’s intention to cater to a broader market while still delivering the exhilarating driving experience that enthusiasts expect. The five-door configuration, combined with sporty design elements, ensures that the Alpine A290 retains its hot hatch identity while offering more convenience to its occupants.
Performance Under the Hood
Alpine is well aware that its transition to electric vehicles shouldn’t come at the cost of performance. The Alpine A290 will be based on the CMF-BEV architecture, a platform known for its dynamic potential. This architecture positions the battery pack under the car to lower the center of mass and improve handling. It also incorporates independent multi-link suspension at the rear, setting the stage for an agile and responsive driving experience.
Alpine’s engineers have invested considerable effort in refining the Alpine A290’s chassis setup. Their goal is to make the Alpine A290 sharper and more enjoyable to drive compared to the Renault 5, which is already acclaimed for its class-leading driving dynamics.
Focused on Agility
Antony Villain, Alpine’s design director, emphasized the importance of agility even in the era of electric vehicles. The Alpine A290 features hydraulic bump-stops in the suspension setup, enhancing ride quality and handling adjustability. Additionally, the torque vectoring on the production car’s single front motor has been tuned to mimic the behavior of a mechanical differential, improving stability during braking and providing better traction when accelerating out of corners.
The Alpine A290’s compact dimensions, with a short wheelbase and wide track, make it inherently stable and agile, as highlighted by product boss Charlie Biardeau. The vehicle measures 4.05 meters in length and 1.85 meters in width, striking a balance between stability and maneuverability.
Mastering the Art of Braking
To ensure a seamless and transparent driving experience, the Alpine A290 uses the same four-piston brakes as the acclaimed A110. These brakes have been fine-tuned to work in harmony with the regeneration of the production car’s single front motor. Alpine is striving to create a sense of “transparency” through the brake pedal, offering various strengths of regeneration. This may include a ‘one-pedal’ drive mode, allowing drivers to control the car solely with the accelerator pedal, which is particularly advantageous in urban traffic conditions.
However, the Alpine A290 is expected to be significantly heavier than the A110, primarily due to the weight of its battery. Alpine is taking a holistic approach to balance the impact of weight on the vehicle’s agility. Biardeau explained that Alpine’s heritage is rooted in agility and a distinctive ride, which can be achieved through not only weight management but also the unique features that EVs bring to the table.
Balancing weight distribution, particularly by shifting it towards the rear, provides enhanced stability during braking, allowing more creative use of the suspension. This approach results in a dynamic and enjoyable driving experience.
The Power Within
Bonetto, Alpine’s engineering boss, has confirmed that the Alpine A290 will offer two power levels. One of these will feature a shortened version of the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric’s 215 horsepower motor. The other, which is yet to be officially detailed, is expected to be the 268-horsepower unit developed by Renault, Valeo, and Valeo-Siemens, with production slated for 2027. All power outputs are aimed at providing a potent yet refined performance, ensuring that the Alpine A290 delivers a memorable driving experience without overwhelming the driver.
For its electric propulsion, the Alpine A290 will rely on a single battery pack. This battery is anticipated to be on par with the Renault Zoe’s 52 kWh capacity, offering an official range of approximately 238 miles. What makes this battery stand out is its superior energy density, divided into four ‘big modules,’ resulting in a lighter overall weight.
The Road Ahead
As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of the Alpine Alpine A290 in the second half of 2024, it’s clear that Alpine is gearing up to make a significant impact in the electric hot hatch segment. With its practical yet sporty five-door design, a focus on agility and responsive handling, and a robust electric powertrain, the Alpine A290 is poised to make waves in the automotive world.
However, it’s essential to note that this transformation does come at a cost. The pricing for the Alpine A290 is expected to start at £40,000 (approximately €46,500 or $50,000). This represents a notable step up from the sub-€25,000 entry price of its R5 sibling. Nevertheless, with Alpine’s reputation for innovation and performance, the Alpine A290 is likely to find a dedicated fan base of enthusiasts and environmentally conscious drivers who are eager to experience the future of hot hatch driving.
In conclusion, the Alpine Alpine A290 is not just an electric vehicle; it’s a bold statement from a manufacturer committed to evolving and staying at the forefront of automotive technology. The Alpine A290 promises to deliver on practicality, performance, and the sheer driving pleasure that enthusiasts crave, setting a new benchmark for the electric hot hatch segment. As the Alpine A290 prepares to hit the roads, the automotive world eagerly awaits the opportunity to experience the future of Alpine performance.
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