Renault Alpine sports car coming in 2015 with “French dash”

Alpine A110 rally car jumpRenault has set a deadline for its Alpine (pronounced al-peen) sports car, a joint project being developed with the help of England’s Caterham that will revive one of motoring’s classic names. The Alpine could be in showrooms by 2015, and is shaping up to be a French counterpart to the Porsche Boxster and Mazda Miata.

Renault marketing director Stephen Norman told Autocar that the Alpine will be finished in three years, meaning it could be ready as early as the end of 2015. The car was previously on a four-year timetable.

Norman also started fleshing out the Alpine’s character. The A110-50 concept car was the first sign that Renault was thinking about reviving Alpine, but the production car won’t be a track-bred exotic like the concept.

“It won’t be more hardcore than a Mazda MX-5,” Norman said. “What we do will not be soft, but not hardcore like a Peugeot 106 Rallye. You can’t betray the DNA of Alpine. That’s a third of what the car will be.”

So what we’re looking at isn’t a supercar, but a small sports car that prioritizes handling and refinement. This matches previous reports, which said the Alpine would use an engine from one of the Renaultsport hot hatchbacks. That engine will produce around 250 horsepower in the Alpine.

With the MX-5 Miata, Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S/Toyota GT-86, Lotus Elise, and Porsche Boxster already on the market, it might seem like there isn’t enough room for another small, nimble sports car. However, the Alpine will have a unique character.

“It must be light and look different, and have a touch of French dash,” Norman said. “It’s not a car for dandies, though. We know who the buyer is: he’s either French or a Francophile.”

The last time the world got to see France’s take on the small sports car was when Renault unveiled the aluminum Renaultsport Spider in 1996. Before that, there were Alpine models like the A110 that inspired the recent concept car, not to mention Renault’s own Dauphine roadster of the 1960s.

It will be interesting to see where the revived Alpine fits in the 21st century sports car field. A 250 hp engine would give the Alpine a significant advantage over entry-level models like the Miata and Toyobaru, but it wouldn’t be quite enough to match the 265 hp 2013 Boxster or 315 hp Boxster S. That uniquely French character, mixed with Caterham’s British ingenuity, could make up the difference, though.

Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.
Cars

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Smart Home

Ford’s ingenious bed for couples keeps mattress hogs in their own half

Drawing on its driverless-car technology, Ford has created a smart bed for couples that uses sensors and a conveyor belt to prevent either occupant from straying onto the other half of the mattress while they doze.
Cars

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Outdoors

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.
Cars

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.
Cars

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.
Cars

Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

With its trippy paint scheme, the Volkswagen "Light" bus became a symbol of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. VW teamed up with the artist who created this rolling mural to stage a comeback in time for Woodstock's 50th anniversary.
Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.