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Alpine A290 hot hatch unveiled with 215bhp and 236 miles of range

Sporty looks are backed by Mini Cooper-rivalling spec French performance brand's first EV is a...


  • Jun 13 2024
  • 112
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Alpine A290 hot hatch unveiled with 215bhp and 236 miles of range
Alpine A290 hot hatch unveiled with 215bhp and 236 miles of range
Sporty looks are backed by Mini Cooper-rivalling spec
French performance brand's first EV is a warmed up Renault 5, aiming to prove EVs can be fun to drive

Alpine has launched into its electric era with the A290 hot hatch, which majors on performance, agility and lightness.

The Renault-owned brand’s debut EV preserves the spirit of last year’s outlandish Beta concept, with a wide-reaching design makeover that marks it out obviously from the Renault 5 upon which it is based and emphasises its sporting billing.

The A290 is the same length as the Renault hatch, but its track has been increased by 60mm, endowing the muscular A290 with a wider stance in order to appeal to “stylists and performance enthusiasts alike”, according to Alpine.

The exterior design contains distinctive details that play into Alpine’s motorsport heritage, such as the X-shaped motifs on the spotlights. Wider wings, deep side skirts, chunky 19in alloy wheels and a black rear diffuser round off the A290’s rally-inspired look.

The extreme design is backed by a host of extensive technical modifications. The A290 features bespoke suspension, powertrain tech, brakes, tyres and sounds for what Alpine calls a “more emotional driving experience”. 

Alpine CEO Philippe Krief said the A290 was a “stand-alone development” but it has been crafted to “remind drivers of the A110” – the sports coupé that has been the brand’s sole road car since its 2017 relaunch.

He stressed that the new hatchback will play an important role as a conquest model for Alpine, given its entry-level billing and urban-friendly proportions. “The A290 is the first Alpine you can have in your story, because it’s a hatch, it’s a city car and it’s quite versatile, so it could be the first car of a future Alpine lover,” he said.

Alpine A290 rear quarter

As with the A110, weight-saving has been a focus of the A290’s development. As a result, the electric hot hatch tips the scales at 1479kg. That’s only around 250kg more than a Renault Clio hybrid and 126kg lighter than the similarly conceived Mini Cooper SE, which was used as a benchmark by engineers. Alpine claims the motor and gearbox weigh less than 100kg altogether.

The rear multi-link suspension from the Renault 5 has been retained for the A290, but with bespoke hydraulic bump-stops and anti-roll bars added to “ensure an excellent level of comfort” and “top-of-the-range handling”.

Larger, 288mm Brembo brake discs have also been fitted and Alpine engineers have retuned the pedal mapping to ensure greater control in all conditions, targeting a similar feel to the A110’s. The A290’s braking system is configured so that there is a “natural transition” between the by-wire system and the regenerative brakes.

Powering the A290 is a 52kWh battery – the largest unit that Renault offers with the 5. It is claimed to offer a range of up to 236 miles in the A290 and can charge at 100kW for a 15-80% top-up in around 30 minutes.

Four trim levels will be available from launch. Entry-level GT and mid-level GT Premium models are fitted with a 178bhp electric motor, while the GT Performance and range-topping GTS use a 215bhp electric motor to match the hot electric Mini.

Alpine A290 front quarter – black

Asked if the A290 could spawn other derivatives, as the A110 has done, ex-Ferrari and Alfa Romeo engineer Krief said the electric hatchback would evolve in a similar way, but he stopped short of confirming an R-badged dual-motor performance model.

The 215bhp front motor is carried over from the Renault Mégane E-Tech and tuned by Alpine to produce more torque. The range-topping model develops 221lb ft for a Cooper SE-baiting 0-62mph time of 6.4sec. There’s also a prominent red overtake button on the steering wheel that liberates maximum torque and power for 10 seconds.

Rather than replicate the noise of an ICE engine, Alpine collaborated with acousticians to create two bespoke driving sounds based on the “natural harmonics” of the electric motor.

“The sound is fundamental for emotion,” said Krief. “We must create a car that has an immersive experience. The steering, throttle, braking and sound are all things you feel. They create emotion and this is what we want to put into our cars.”

Inside, a 10.25in digital instrument cluster and 10.1in touchscreen infotainment display run Alpine Portal, the brand’s new infotainment system. Over-the-air updates are available and the system is supported by various Google-based apps.

Alpine A290 interior

Making its debut in the A290 is Alpine’s new Telemetrics programme, which comprises three main features: Live Data, Coaching and Challenges.

Live Data displays information relating to the car’s agility, power, endurance and lap times if you’re driving on a circuit, while Coaching is designed to help drivers improve their skills, giving advice on braking and drifting, for example.

The video game-style Challenges mode gives drivers a number of tasks to complete based on agility, power and endurance, with a new challenge unlocked every time one is achieved.

The A290 is set to be priced from £36,000 when it goes on sale towards the end of the year and the first deliveries are due to take place in early 2025.

Q&A: Philippe Krief, CEO, Alpine

Phillipe Krief, Alpine CEO

What does the A290 tell us about the future of Alpine?

“Firstly, it says that we are going electric and, secondly, that we can have fun with electric models, because they allow us to offer more personalisation. Because we are a premium brand, personalisation is important and this car will allow us to start that and offer things from the Atelier, like we did for the A110.”

How important is the A290?

“Of course it’s important for us because it’s a big-volume product, but it’s more a question of making that first step for the brand. You have to look at the global picture because, for Alpine, our plan right now is to launch new cars and build our brand so that people embrace it. If we want to go to other markets, we need more product lines that are iconic and sporty, but also more lifestyle and versatile.

Do you need to convince people that electric cars are fun to drive?

“As soon as you drive the car, you will be convinced, I am sure. With EVs, you have a lot of opportunities and you can work to solve issues like weight and other things in order to build a better car. At the end of the day, the story of the automotive industry is to always make a better car than the previous one, and we can do the same with EVs, but also with sports cars.”

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