Alpine's reincarnation has been a rare success story in the annuls of brand resuscitations. Since Renault breathed new life into it and launched the A110 in 2017, it received almost universal praise from motoring writers and pundits globally.
Its raison d'être is to provide the most fun and dynamic ability through being lightweight and simple. For example, it only has a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-pot with a relatively conservative 252bhp. But it only weighs a smidge over 1100kg so the A110 has great straight-line performance and superb handling characteristics.
However, all manufacturers are under pressure to bring down their fleet emissions and whilst Alpine's single model line-up comes in at a respectable 144g/km, it's a long way off of the 95g/km of carbon dioxide European target for 2021. The trouble for a brand like Alpine is that in order to meet this target it has to make sacrifices; a normal internal combustion powertrain simply wouldn't be able to produce such low emissions and have plentiful power.
For Alpine, its Renault overlords have admitted that it simply “cannot escape” electrification.
Speaking to Auto Express, Renault bigwig Oliver Murguet has stated that regardless of what has gone before, with next generation cars Alpine will have to go electric. “Electrification will be massive,” he is reported as saying. “We have to intensify electrification. Alpine cannot escape.” He did not, however, give a timeframe for such a programme.
Adding hybrid drive would add weight and whilst all-out power would easily compensate for this, it's an inescapable fact that all the dynamic wizardry in the world can't completely hide the detrimental impact this would have on the car's much-lauded deftness at the wheel. According to Auto Express, however, Alpine might have a get-out-of-jail-free card which has been handed to them by their own customers.
Murguet stated; “Alpine customers are asking for more sportiness, but also more cosiness”. Translating that into plain English, they want more stuff – ergo, more weight. Of course, this might be a clever workaround, implemented by the marketing team; an apologist stance at the defence of the brand's valued customers.
Quite whether said customers are actually asking for more cosiness is open to conjecture. But who buys a lightweight, stripped-back sports car which has been intensely marketed as such and immediately bemoans the lack of creature comforts?
What has been gently mooted by bosses, as noted by Auto Express, is an Alpine-badged SUV which would obviously make a far more sensible platform for a hybrid powertrain. Furthermore, given that overall fleet emissions are what the EU targets look at, if Alpine flogs enough super-low emissions SUVs, it can afford to reduce the compromises it makes with A110 by affording it a few extra g/km at the tailpipe.
A cynical take this might be, but Aston Martin didn't produce the Toyota IQ-based Cygnet because it upheld the brand's overall ambitions, and don't imagine that some fleets use PHEVs for anything other than a lower tax bill rather than a sense of responsibility to the planet...
Of course, like all brands, Alpine needs to embrace a low emissions future and Oliver Murguet's take is a reassuringly positive one; “Loot at Ferrari – even the latest Ferrari is (hybrid) electric.” And it's not as though anybody is being especially critical of Ferrari's latest supercars – hybrid or not!