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Renault prepares to unleash its first Alpine sports coupe in two decades

Renault’s born-again Alpine division is preparing to launch its first sports car in more than two decades. The model is tentatively called A120, which was chosen as an homage to the iconic A110 that dominated the world of rallying during the 1960s.

Perhaps inspired by Tesla’s success, Alpine is taking orders before unveiling a production model. Enthusiasts can download a smartphone app called “Alpine” and make a 2,000 euros (roughly $2,100) deposit to reserve one of the very first cars to roll off the production line. These models are considered a Premiere Edition, and only 1,955 of them will be built. Right now buyers can only choose whether they want the car painted blue, black, or white, but more options will be added to the app as production nears.

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The production model is significantly inspired by the striking Vision concept that was shown during an event in Monaco last year. Key retro-inspired styling cues like the lights, the shape of the hood, and the wraparound rear window have made the transition from concept to production with only minor tweaks. A brief teaser video confirms the model will be built using aluminum in order to keep weight in check.

What powers the coupe is a topic of debate. British magazine Autocar believes the A120 will use a turbocharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine derived from the unit that powers the Clio R.S. It will make 250 horsepower in its most basic state of tune, although sources within the company indicate a 300-horsepower model will be added to the lineup a few months into the production run. The coupe is expected to hit 60 mph from a stop in about 4.5 seconds.

The A120 is aimed squarely at the Porsche 718 Cayman, and it’s shaping up to be a worthy adversary — at least on paper. In comparison, the base Cayman is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower, and it hits 60 mph from a stop in 4.9 seconds. Numbers only tell part of the story; we’ll have to wait until the A120 is released to find out if Renault has truly built a Porsche beater.

The Alpine A120 — assuming the name is retained for production — will debut in the coming months, possibly at the Geneva Auto Show in March. It will cost between 55,000 and 60,000 euros (approximately $58,000 and $64,000 U.S.), and the first deliveries are scheduled for late 2017. Industry rumblings claim at least a handful of examples will be shipped to the United States, though Renault hasn’t confirmed the rumors.

Updated on 01-17-2016 by Ronan Glon: Added information about the Alpine A120’s aluminum construction, and about its expected debut date.