Paris Motorshow: Renault hoping for a sporting revival

Renault is both dipping into its memory banks and looking forward to an all-electric future as it uses the Geneva motor show to remind us all that, aside from diesel Meganes, the family Fluences and new Captur crossovers, it has long been a truly sporting brand. Brought out of long-term stasis (there hasn’t been a new one since the early nineties) is Alpine, once an independent tuning house and maker of its own cars, but long-since owned outright by Renault.

The new A110 mid-engined coupe will be a rival for the Porsche Cayman and Boxster as well as the Audi TT, and it borrows both name and styling from an illustrious ancestor from the 1960s — the original A110 won the Monte Carlo Rally on numerous occasions.

Following the trend of the Alfa Romeo 4C, the Alpine is impressively light, at just 1,080kg and is uses a 1.8-litre turbo four-cylinder engine with 252hp and 320Nm of torque. Driving the rear wheels though a seven-speed DCT dual-clutch gearbox, performance is pretty explosive. The 100kmh dash is done in just 4.5secs.

In spite of the light weight and serious acceleration, Renault is claiming that the Alpine will be comfortable and useable as a day-to-day car, saying that it’s been designed to “provide a rare combination – excellent handling and performance while at the same time offering great ride comfort and daily usability.”

Sales will kick off in the summer with a special Premiere Edition limited to 1,955 units (1955 being the founding year of the Alpine brand). It’s not going to be cheap though. The price in France is €54,000 which means it could top €70,000 in Ireland, even with its reasonable sub-140g/km Co2 figure.

Definitely not going on sale any time soon (sadly) is the Zoe e-sport concept. While the current road-going Zoe boasts an impressive 400km one-charge range from its batteries, this two-seat concept is aiming for a rather different figure — 460hp, and a 0-100kmh dash time of just 3.2 seconds.

The car does use the standard 40kWh battery stack from the production Zoe, but it’s been fitted with two electric motors lifted from Renault’s Formula-E race cars, one to drive each axle. Not for production, but it has been built, says Renault, “to see what is possible with an electric car.”

Finally, on a more conventional note, Renault has also used the Geneva show to introduce an updated Captur small crossover. It gets new lights and LED daytime running lights, tweaked grille and bumpers, and some new paint and colour options.