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Resurrecting Alpine

September 5, 2011 by Matt

Alpine A310

Left Lane reports French automaker Renault is mulling over a reintroduction of their performance Alpine brand.

Best known for their pint-size, rally-winning A110, I was introduced to Alpine by their later A310, shown above. An awkwardly-proportioned, rear-engined wedge of a car, the A310 was more rare than a Porsche or Ferrari even in its native France. During our time in Europe, I remember more than one car ride sighting, excitedly telling my brothers “Look! An Alpine!” Much like the SVX, the car emitted a distinctive sci-fi vibe, and had major “baby Countach” overtones. Low and angular, it pushed all the right buttons for a 9-year-old car nut.

Powered by either an indifferent Renault 4-cylinder or the ho-hum PRV V6, the ~8 second 0-60 time was on the weak side but reasonably competent for the era, even if it didn’t really live up to the promise of the car’s looks. And the rear-engined handling was tricky, but no more so than that of the average 911.

Unfortunately, Renault could never really figure out what they wanted to do with the marque. They vacillated between calling the cars “Renault Alpines” or just “Alpines,” and failed to really harmonize them with the rest of their model line. So the cars never really became their parent company’s performance flagship, as was intended, and enthusiasts always considered them more “standalone” Alpines rather than proper Renaults. Severed from their lineage as the defunct subsidiary is at present, it’ll be interesting to see which direction Renault takes the brand. Will the new Alpines be tarted-up performance versions of existing Renaults, or will they be all-new, clean-sheet designs? Here’s hoping the latter.

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