Get to Know Alpine, the Sports-Car Brand Hoping to Become a “Mini Ferrari”

Renault brought back Alpine and its A110 in 2017, and they’ve got big plans

alpine a110 sports car
The Légende GT, a limited-edition version of the Alpine A110 from Renault.

When we put together our annual compendium of cars we couldn’t wait to drive in 2018, a curious name made the list: Alpine. The French marque, maker of cult-favorite sports cars and Le Mans racers, had closed up shop over 20 years prior in 1995, but Renault decided to revive it, bringing back the two-door A110.

If you haven’t heard about the revival of Alpine, there’s a clear reason. Despite being an attractive sports car in style, driving experience and price (the A110 starts around $62,000 when converted to U.S. dollars), the brand only sold 4,835 cars worldwide in 2019, according to Bloomberg. But Renault CEO Luca de Meo has a plan to change that and make Alpine “a mini Ferrari.”

De Meo came in as Renault’s new CEO this summer and has been making big claims about the future of the struggling French carmaker, part of which includes making Alpine a household name. The Ferrari comparison is apt; as Bloomberg noted, de Meo has rebranded Renault’s Formula One team with the Alpine name starting in 2021, and he’s simultaneously working on expanding Alpine’s consumer car production.

How do they do that? One major avenue of growth could come by expanding into the U.S. That’s right: as of this moment, Alpine cars aren’t for sale stateside, but if they’re hoping to achieve “mini Ferrari” status, that would certainly help. And as Managing Director Patrick Marinoff has said in the past, “If it would be a [definite] ‘No,’ the answer would be much shorter … The question is very valid, and I can give you a little bit of speculation.” So they’re certainly open to the idea.

Opening up other markets isn’t the only tactic they’re looking at, though. “De Meo has dropped a few hints about where the brand will go next, saying last week it will ‘add emotion’ to Renault’s electric lineup,” wrote Bloomberg. “In a memo to staff last month, he called for Alpine to embark on a ‘Porsche 911 program’ and spawn a small series of viable EVs.”

A European sports car that could compete with Porsche and Ferrari in the U.S.? What’s not to love?

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