Just because we’re heading into the age of electric cars doesn’t mean we have to forgo the excitement many sporty combustion-powered hatchbacks have given us over the years. This rings particularly true for the newly-unveiled Alpine A290_β (A290 beta) show car, previewing the brand’s first fully electric hot hatch production model.
This is new ground for the French carmaker, which specialises in sportscars with the engine mounted in the back, considering it has never released a hatchback before. As Renault’s performance brand, Alpine also has access to wide range of models to juice up if it so desires (or gets told to). So it comes as no surprise that the A290 is based on the Renault 5 concept which is set to be released next year.
On the outside, the beta remains faithful to the car its based on but adds a few more shouty appointments such as a sharper lower front bumper with intakes guiding air around the sides of the car, boxy arches, a rear diffuser and a flicked up rear wing. Adding to its uniqueness is a set of X-shaped fog lights up front which will feature on the production model, a magenta-coloured styling line following the roof, and a set of “archetypal” wheels.
Overall dimensions measure in at 4050mm long, 1850mm wide, and 1480mm tall with the wheelbase being kept as short as possible while it maximises track width.
One of its most stand out features is the three-seat, central driver configuration inside, much like the arrangement found in the McLaren F1 and Speedtail, as well as the GMA T.50. However, Gordon Murray isn’t responsible for the design found here. Instead, Alpine took inspiration from its race cars as it wants to make the driver feel “at one with the car” while providing an “unparalleled experience” for passengers. It’s unknown whether the production car will feature three seats though.
The racing inspirations continue inside with carbon fibre bucket seats, and arrow-shaped dashboard and a minimalist overhead panel that controls the car’s functions including a kill switch, indicators, light settings, etc. You’ll be surprised to know that there’s no screens inside, but rather a head-up display, as Alpine wants the driver to be fully focused on the road (or racetrack) ahead. Even the steering wheel takes after Alpine’s LMP2 car with a “gamepad-like” design and Formula 1-inspired overtake button.
Underpinning the production model will be Renault’s CMF-EV platform, featuring what we presume will be a 60kWh battery and a 160kW electric motor. Technical specifications and performance figures have yet to be confirmed though. Alpine did however confirm that the actual car will feature multi-link suspension on the rear axle and a Brembo brake system with four-piston calipers, identical to those found on the A110.
The French carmaker has more good news for us as the A290_β is supposedly the first of three models it plans to launch as part of the brand’s “Dream Garage”. Making up the rest of the trio is said to a GT crossover and and the replacement for the A110 which will all be fully electric once they hit production.
If the Alpine A290_β is anything to go by for the future of the hot hatch segment, then we certainly have high hopes for what’s to come.