The electric hot hatch will be unveiled on June 13

By | April 2, 2024

Alpine A290 for three quarters

The Alpine A290 will compete with the electric Mini Cooper, Abarth 500e and Cupra Born

Alpine will unveil the production version of its new electric hot hatch A290 on the sidelines of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13.

The confirmation of the new Alpine’s unveiling date comes just a few weeks after the debut of the new Renault 5, on which it is based.

The A290 Beta concept was previewed last year and will be Alpine’s second model line – after the Alpine A110 coupe – and its first electric car. A sporty crossover related to the Renault Mégane E-tech and a few larger SUVs will follow, along with an electric successor to the A110 and a four-seater sports car, the A310.

The A290, which was recently shown in disguise during cold-weather testing in Sweden, will boost Alpine’s breakthrough into the mainstream market.

Although the A290 Beta featured an FIA-approved racing chassis and two front-axle mounted engines, the production car will share the 5’s CMF-BEV platform. Renault has already touted the dynamic potential of the architecture, with the battery pack mounted underneath the car to lower the center of gravity and improve handling. It also features an independent multi-link suspension at the rear.

Alps has further refined the platform to ensure it is playful at low speeds and more stable under acceleration. “The most important thing is agility,” design director Antony Villain recently told Autocar. “And we know that when we switch to EV, we will have heavy batteries, but we want to find exactly the same driving philosophy: agility and pure fun.”

To this end, Alpine has added hydraulic bump stops to the Renault 5’s suspension, improving the A290’s handling and allowing better road holding adjustments. Similarly, the torque vectoring on the production car’s single front motor is set to simulate a mechanical differential, increasing braking stability and traction when accelerating out of a corner.

The A290’s 2,530mm wheelbase and wide track – the entire car is 3,990mm long and 1,820mm wide – make it inherently stable and agile, says product boss Charlie Biardeau.

He added that the A290 uses the same four-piston brakes as the A110, albeit naturally matched to the regeneration of the production car’s single front engine.

Biardeau explained that Alpine is aiming for a feeling of “transparency” through the brake pedal, with different regeneration strengths. These include, for example, a single-pedal driving mode, which maximizes engine braking so you can drive the car solely with the accelerator pedal – a boon in city traffic.

The A290 will be significantly heavier than the A110 (approximately 1100 kg, depending on specification) due to the battery. Alpine “finds a new balance for today’s technology,” said Biardeau, adding: “Alpine’s legacy is agility and distinctive handling. That could be due to the weight, but it could also be due to other features, and EVs also give you a lot more torque. It means that [the agility] Sometimes it’s not in the numbers, it’s in the feeling you’ll have – it’s a moving weight.

Alpine a290 beta front high staticAlpine a290 beta front high static

Alpine a290 beta front high static

He added: “Normally in an ICE hot hatch you have all the weight at the front. [Balancing the weight toward the rear] means that when you brake, the rear is more stable; so you can play with the suspension in other ways and so on.

Engineering boss Bonetto confirmed to Autocar that the A290 will offer two power outputs: one will be a shortened version of the 215 hp engine from the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric, while the other – not yet officially detailed – is expected to be the 268 hp engine developed by Renault, Valeo and Valeo-Siemens should go into production in 2027.

All power deliveries are planned to provide “a good level of performance” without feeling “brutal,” Bonetto said.

Only one battery will be offered, which is expected to roughly match the Renault Zoe’s 52 kWh capacity and official 240-mile range. The French company previously announced that its new-generation package – split into four ‘large modules’ – is denser than the Zoe unit and therefore 15kg lighter.

Inside, the production A290 will look “1%” like the show car, according to interior designer Joshua Reer. The three-seat cockpit, which places the driver front and center, is more of a statement of intent for future Alpine interiors.

Alpine a290 beta interiorAlpine a290 beta interior

Alpine a290 beta interior

Minimalism is the key to this interior, with touchscreens completely omitted in favor of traditional button controls on the roof and steering wheel. Vital information – speed and range – is shown on a small head-up display above the steering wheel. “I think the interior should make it clear what it means to sit in an Alpine,” says Reer.

He added that the one feature likely to translate to the four-seat production car is the Formula 1-inspired ‘OV’ button, which allows for a 10-second power boost. Alpine has yet to detail the extent of this improvement, but Bonetto said: “It’s significant, you can really feel it.” Biardeau added that the bud has a short cool-down period between eruptions, but that this is still being fine-tuned.

The link with Formula 1 doesn’t end there, as the Alpine Racing Formula 1 team, based in Enstone, played a role in shaping the aerodynamics of the A290. The vents below the X-shaped headlights (inspired by the tape used on historic rally cars) in the front bumper and high on the rear quarter panel direct all air over the car’s flanks to reduce drag.

Other styling cues include the signature blue-flecked carbon fiber body kit (likely plastic on the production model) and the twin faux exhausts integrated into the rear splitter. However, these are not actually intended to be presented as exhausts; they are instead intended to resemble the fans used on powerful gaming consoles. According to Villain, this is a private joke between Alpine and Renault CEO Luca de Meo himself, and contributes to the brand’s ambition to sell cars to the ‘gaming generation’.

Detail of the exhaust of the Alpine A290 beta fanDetail of the exhaust of the Alpine A290 beta fan

Detail of the exhaust of the Alpine A290 beta fan

The A290 is expected to command a significant premium over the around £25,000 Renault 5, and is likely to be priced higher than its closest rival, the 215bhp version of the new electric Mini Cooper, which costs just under £38,000.

Future models will follow the A290 naming structure, with ‘2’ indicating the name and ’90’ indicating that it is not intended as a purely sporting model. Only a select number of future models – currently only the A110 – will carry the ’10’ badge.

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