“There will be no other car if my first car is not a success” — Alpine CEO Bernard Ollivier.
Reborn French sportscar brand Alpine is putting rumours of a range expansion into the crossover space and dreams of further conquest on hiatus, and is instead saying the only consideration for now is getting its first new road-going model in 20 years absolutely perfect.
As we know, the iconic road and racecar maker, largely absent for two decades but possessing an illustrious 60-year history and a rabid following at home, is poised for a dramatic return to the production road car fold under the full stewardship of Renault.
Alpine’s first new car since 1995 will be a coupe using existing Renault architectures and components, that harks to the brand’s core tenet of lightweight construction. It will be a consummate daily driver, prioritise handling over straight-line power and offer “French elegance” with a particular focus on bringing more women into the fold.
It will look like the 2015 Alpine Celebration concept pictured above.
“There is a big expectation with this car, and we are obliged… no mistake. Only one shot, so if we need two or three years more for a perfect car we will take it,” Alpine CEO Bernard Ollivier said this week.
The Alpine CEO, a Renault Sport veteran who led the latest Clio RS project, would have been even more aware than usual of the car’s importance to its rabid fan base. Dieppe was concurrently hosting a gathering of classic Alpines to mark the marque’s 60th anniversary, with hundreds of devotees in attendance.
Above: Alpine A310.
It is these people, but also a raft of buyers beyond France in many markets not so familiar with the badge, that will buy the 3000 to 4000 Alpines to be produced annually in Dieppe on the same line as the Clio RS.
From there, the sky might be the limit. What of an expansion into the crossover SUV market, for instance? “Internet can dream,” he said. “I have only to make my first car because there will be no other car if my first car is not a success."
Above: Alpine A110.
And rivals? Ollivier has previously described the reborn Alpine coupe as the "Berlinette for the 21st Century", and boldly claimed it would have no direct rivals, though he did reference the Alfa Romeo 4C and Porsche Cayman under questioning.
“The answer is clear: we have to make Alpine cars. It's French elegance. It's lightweight. It's quite comfortable for daily use. It's pleasing at low speed with curves. There is only a unique brand able to do this. For me we have no competitors.”
"It's the package, the DNA of the brand which is a unique signature. My issue is not to be sure if I'm better than 4C or Cayman. My issue is only with the DNA of Alpine.
“Many people, especially women, will like the French elegance which is different to German or Italian elegance. French elegance is very simple and we think our car is the solution. We hope our new car will also be out of its time.”
Alpine was founded on June 25, 1955 by Frenchman Jean Rédélé. It made a number of road/race models such as the A106 (1955-1960), the A108 (1958-1965) and the iconic A110 (1962-1977).
They were followed by the A310, the V6 turbo-powered coupe, and the 1990 A610, which was powered by a 3.0-litre turbo V6 and died in 1995. Alpine claims a long and famous heritage in both road racing and rally.