Renault’s performance division, Alpine, is one step closer to becoming a mainstream brand after unveiling its long-awaited electric hot hatch.
Named the Alpine A290 Beta, it’s the brand’s first ‘lifestyle’ vehicle.
And, unlike its other models, it’s been designed for usability rather than sportiness.
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But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s talk about the unusual name.
The French performance specialist says it’s based on the brand’s “global naming strategy.”
The names start with the letter A, followed by three letters.
In the electric hot hatch’s case, the number ‘2’ stands for the B-segment car on which it’s based (Renault 5 EV), and the ‘90’ stands for the brand’s future lifestyle range.
Finally, the Greek letter ‘Beta’ indicates an intermediate phase working up to the production vehicle’s launch in 2024.
Measuring 4.05 metres long, 1.85 meters wide and 1.48 meters high, the show car is a taster for what promises to be an agile production car.
The short wheelbase and wide track will make for sporty driving and greater stability at high speeds.
When it comes to aerodynamic performance, Alpine says its designers “pored over even the tiniest details.”
The front bumper has large air inlets that enhance the car’s aerodynamics while cooling it more efficiently.
The ultra-slim floating rear-view mirrors also play a part in the car’s road grip, and the indicator bands underline the Apline A290 Beta’s versatility and oomph.
There are other sculpted air inlets beneath the headlights, to help air flow smoothly and add a motor-sports vibe.
The battery fans are visible and look a bit like fans cooling supercharged gaming PCs.
Speaking of headlights, the two X-shaped sets of lights at the front of the A290 Beta are very much like the ones the production model will feature.
They stem, to some extent, from the headlights on the iconic A110, while the vertical rear lights look like the ones on the A470 endurance racing car.
The rear brake light stretches inwards, through the back windshield, to merge into the light beam across the car’s centerline.
All the vehicle’s lights are the same colors as the rest of the design: magenta sweeps across the car from the headlights to the rear lights, and the wing mirrors and indicators are blue.
Finally, the Alpine A290 Beta sits on a set of 20-inch alumninum rims wrapped in Michelin rubber purpose-engineered for the model.
Behind the wheels is a high-performance Brembo braking system, 4-piston calipers, identical to that of the A110.
While the production car will look a lot like the Alpine A290 Beta from the outside, the interior is much more conceptual.
The cockpit is inspired by racing cars: it is minamalistic and all about performance and efficiency – no large touchscreens here.
The steering wheel, packed with an assortment of motorsports-inspired features, is a great example – as are the raw carbon bucket seats and Sabelt safety harnesses.
On the subject of steering wheels, the A290 Beta’s features a red Formula 1-derived OV (Overtake) button to deliver a 10-second power boost.
A city-friendly hot-rod inspired by racing cars, the A290 Beta has a three-seat architecture and central driving position.
The whole point is that the driver is at one with the car and the passengers, who are essentially co-pilots, enjoy the experience.
That’s why the dashboard is deliberately shaped like an arrow, to highlight the centerline driving position and convey a sense of speed, pefromance and complete control.
Talking of power, Alpine hasn’t officially revealed what will be under the hood, but it’s believed to be the 215bhp (160kW) electric motor from the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric.