This 2015 ALPINE Celebration Concept is a mid-engine prototype that represents the first look at the brand's move to a stand-alone marque in the RenaultSport fleet.
Initiated as a collaboration with Caterham a few years ago, the plan was to acquire a low-cost and proven sports-car chassis from the English. Custom bodywork and RenaultSport engines would provide authentic French zing for the machine - which would become a halo sportscar for the entire Renault/Dacia lineup -- worldwide.
HD Le Mans Lap
Renault ran into major troubles synchronizing its big-company safety, reliability and production feasibility needs with the cottage-industry standards of Caterham. In addition, Caterham's ownership and priorities provided a shifting sand base that kept moving under Renault's feet.
So what to do? The goal of relaunching Alpine sports cars as a brand was a noble one, and worth salvaging. An affordable French-made supercar!? A dream come true for many.
Flash back to one year ago. Renault bought out Caterham's portion of the project and continued development inhouse.
The results are seen here for the first time in the Celebration concept. A nice blend of Renault DeZir and Alpine A110-50 concept, there is also a dash of the mad Alpine M64 LeMans racer in the aesthetics of the new machine.
Sportscar Legacies: Then and Now – 2012 Renault Alpine A110-50 Is A Blend of 1964 M64 and A110 Berlinette
Despite starting with the dream of a Lotus-fighter, Alpine appears to have evolved its mission. The car is larger and much more practical than any Exige or Elise -- with proportions that say TT very clearly. But with mid-engine power?
A Cayman/TT target, then?
That is most likely for the production version of this model -- which is near-complete and likely to launch within a year in Europe. A rollout at next year's LeMans seems plausible -- with only light changes to this concept.
Strip out some of the sillier orange painted elements, some of the carbon-fiber pieces, then add a finished cockpit... and you'll have it!
So what will it be called? And how much power will it have?
The name is a mystery. A120, A160, A460 are all possible.
Based on current RenaultSport engines, a cap of around 300-horsepower is likely. Delivered via a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the upcoming Renault Alpine will be rear-drive with a likely robotized manual transmission.
Within a year of its production debut, the new Alpine is likely to debut some kind of race variant. Lighter, roll-caged and packing massive aero and grip upgrades, the track special will be another glowing ring for this halo model.
Will it work?
Well, mission creep appears to be a big problem with this Alpine --- and many before, if we're honest. From Lotus-fighter to Audi-fighter is a big leap. Will it be overly refined, heavy and slow? We hope not! But signs are not terrific for this Celebration becoming a true mini-supercar.
2015 ALPINE Celebration Concept
Alpine Celebration concept at Le Mans
- Alpine Celebration concept created to commemorate six decades of ‘foot-to-the-floor' heritage
- Specially created for Le Mans 24 Hours
- Concept features iconic colour and sporting styling cues from brand's illustrious past
- Concept debut on track at 1.35pm (local) on Saturday 13 June
- Debut supports Signatech-Alpine A450b race car's LMP2 entry in 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours
- Alpine Celebration set to appear at Goodwood Festival of Speed
Alpine Celebration at Le Mans - iconic blue to mark 60 years of passion
"I chose the name Alpine for my company because for me, this is an adjective that epitomises the pleasure of driving on mountain roads. The most fun I ever had behind the wheel was driving through the Alps in my five-speed 4CV, and it was essential for me that my customers should experience this same level of enjoyment in the car I wanted to build. In this respect, the name Alpine is both symbolic and entirely appropriate."
Jean Rédélé, Alpine founder
"As we mark Alpine's 60th anniversary, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest has generously granted us an exclusive opportunity to unveil the Alpine Celebration show car. It will complete a lap of this legendary circuit. That's an immense honour for us and a genuinely emotional occasion. I have no doubt that this will be just as keenly appreciated by Alpine fans and the spectating public in general, some of whom might be discovering the brand for the first time. They will be left with a strong impression of the style and agility of the Alpine Celebration. I am sure they will associate this image with the values that we hold dear and the sporting flame that continues to drive and inspire us."
Bernard Ollivier, CEO, Société des Automobiles Alpine
A unique and stylish new show car, the Alpine Celebration, has been released as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the brand that was founded by Jean Rédélé. This surprise, emotional launch comes on the eve of the 83rd edition of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours.
The Le Mans 24 Hours regularly attracts more than 250,000 motoring and motor racing fans - sports car aficionados drawn from every corner of the globe - and is arguably the highest-profile event on the international motorsport calendar. It is a technological, human and sporting challenge that has been organised by the ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest) since 1923. The race is broadcast on television to more than 800 million viewers across some 190 countries, with three million visitors to the official website and many more still on social media.
That is why Alpine's surprise unveiling needed to be worthy of the prestige of this event.
A compact sports car inspired by Alpine's motorsport heritage, the Alpine Celebration takes the form of a two-seater coupé whose sleek, flowing lines are underlined by its deep blue colour scheme. This same blue - enhanced by hints of orange - also adorns the Alpine prototypes that made a triumphant return to endurance racing in 2013. It is a livery that harkens back to the Alpine models which played such a pivotal role in the brand's original Le Mans adventure when, from 1963 to 1969, the M63, M64, M65, A210, A220 and even the A110 so valiantly upheld French honour in La Sarthe.
The Alpine Celebration faithfully replicates the timeless style of Alpines of old whilst adding a modern twist. Its low profile, sloping, creased bonnet, sculpted sides, distinctive rear window and other design details are all clear echoes of models like the A110 that have featured so prominently in Alpine's glorious history.
With no need for gimmickry to stand out from the crowd, the beauty of the Alpine Celebration resides in its simplicity. Mindful of remaining elegant whilst at the same time responding to the need for frugality and efficiency, the Alpine Celebration show car reveals much about the brand's heritage. If it retains a familiar style and set of values, it integrates them in a thoroughly modern manner. Carbon detailing is used to highlight the high-tech features of the car's body, from its spoiler to the side sills, diffuser, rear air intakes and mirrors.
The positioning of the masked double headlamps and the central round lights barred by a black cross will remind fans of the adhesive strips that used to be found on the headlights of Alpine's rally cars. It was formerly a means of holding the lenses together should they be broken.
The seemingly floating spoiler which frames the vehicle's bold front end expresses strength, whilst the visual impression of poise and efficiency is enhanced by the straight, sharp lines of the side sills. The mirrors, meanwhile, incorporate a thin mirror that seems to be suspended free of its housing to heighten the dynamic, lightweight and aerodynamically efficient feel. The famous Alpine arrowed ‘A' is visible on the air intake grille, sides, front wings and roof.
The design of the wheels recalls a style that was popular on the A110 and A310 models during the 1970s. They reveal the prominent brake discs and orange brake callipers. In the middle is a one-piece cast aluminium hub - another element that contributes to the overall styling.
The athletic rear integrates air intakes built into the rear quarter panels to contribute to engine cooling. The engine cover - which can be spied through the louvered motifs of the rear window - reveals the mid-rear positioning of the power plant.
Above the wheel arches, scoops guide airflow in a manner that is unmistakeably Alpine. The rear of the vehicle is characterised by an impressive diffuser that incorporates a central rear light, flanked by two brushed stainless steel exhaust tailpipes. The approach throughout is very clearly to highlight rather than conceal the car's structural elements. The result suggests light weight, agility and rewarding performance.
That said, the true significance of the Alpine Celebration show car is to be found in its design - all flowing, sensual curves - which single-handedly symbolises the very essence of driving pleasure à la française.
The Alpine Celebration offers some answers to a question that has long fascinated aficionados of beautiful sports cars: "Does the secret to the aesthetic appeal of an exciting, efficient and easy-to-drive sports car not lie in the precision of its design and its technological simplicity?"
"We envisaged the Alpine Celebration show car as the crowning glory of six decades of Alpine style and motor racing. We paid meticulous attention to every detail. This time, however, we wanted to go even further by reaching out to the hearts of a much broader audience. In order to faithfully reproduce the style and driving experience traditionally associated with Alpine, we were always mindful of wanting to develop and evolve our new car in real-world conditions, but in a manner that is synonymous with French motorsport. It would be difficult to imagine a better showcase than the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours circuit to give the Alpine Celebration its first public airing."
Antony Villain - Alpine Design Director
An acknowledgement of the past and a celebration of the present...
The Alpine Celebration will follow in the wheel tracks of an A110 as it completes its lap of honour of the Le Mans circuit, almost making it appear as if the Berlinette - so emblematic of the Alpine brand and French motorsport in general - had returned in a contemporary guise.
The direct lineage between the two cars is clear to see, seamlessly linking the past to the future. What's more, the determination to once again take on big-name rivals is palpably intact.
The A110 predominantly owes its fame to its dual personality as both a desirable road-going sports car and at the same time a motorsport icon. It boasts a sparkling record, claiming a long list of victories over the course of a long and glittering career that was capped by the Manufacturers' crown in the 1973 World Rally Championship.
Yet the ‘Berlinette' was in fact quite the all-rounder, even producing commendable performances on the racetrack - an area that was not its natural habitat. This was evidenced by the A110 GT's eye-catching efforts in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Indeed, it never shied away from taking the fight to more fancied rivals on any type of terrain. This giant-killing approach has characterised every phase of Alpine's history in motorsport. The same spirit, enthusiasm and constant thirst for new challenges and adventures continue to inspire the teams that are now so passionately involved in the brand's return.
Sixty years ago, the Alpine brand was born. The talent of its founder Jean Rédélé, the passion of the teams working beneath him and the performance of his cars in motorsport saw Alpine swiftly achieve success in every sporting arena. Exemplifying an all-conquering era in French motorsport, Alpine regularly stole the spotlight at Le Mans, from its competitive debut in the twice round-the-clock classic in 1963 right up to its famous outright victory in the race in 1978. As it continues the impressive comeback that began in 2013, Alpine is today writing a fresh page in its remarkable history with its unique Alpine Celebration show car.
The Alpine Celebration is the latest in a series of vehicles designed to showcase the Alpine legend. Since 2012, Alpine has enjoyed an inspiring period of enthusiastic creativity and renewed momentum. Revived by the 50th anniversary of the Berlinette and brought to life in the shape of the stunning A110-50, Alpine's rebirth was immediately marked by a victorious return to motorsport in 2013 - a trend that continued in 2014, as the A450b achieved back-to-back European Le Mans Series endurance racing titles.
The current year represents a new phase of this productive process, with the 60th anniversary celebrations for Jean Rédélé's company and the spectacular creative activities planned to accompany them.
At the beginning of 2015, the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo revved into existence as a new addition to the world's most popular motorsport video game. At the same time, it was brought to life as a futuristic full-scale model - to the evident delight of visitors to the International Automobile Festival and Rétromobile show in Paris.
Alpine is a member of an exclusive club of marques whose success is founded on motorsport. It is this heritage that drives Alpine's acute appreciation of style and an on-going desire to take on human and technological challenges, perpetuating the legend of the brand by attracting new fans all around the world.
As it pursues its quest for the ultimate in performance, agility, style and driving enjoyment that first inspired it 60 years ago, Alpine continues to inspire the dreams of sports car aficionados. The Alpine Celebration goes one step further still in bringing those dreams to life on the racetrack - for one very special lap.
In 2014, Bernard Ollivier (CEO, Société des Automobiles Alpine) made no secret of his desire to make an emphatic statement and celebrate the Alpine brand's 60th anniversary in style.
He consequently tasked his designers with producing a modern car using the DNA of the legendary Alpines. Led by Antony Villain, the team swiftly sprang into action, assisted in its work by several members of the engineering department. Around 15 people worked together to design and develop a car worthy of such a landmark occasion and the impression that it should leave in the memory.
It was thus that the Alpine Celebration was born, following in the wake of the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo which was developed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the famous video game. This car was initially a purely virtual affair, before materialising at the beginning of 2015 in full-scale 3D form. The desire to ‘see it for real' proved to be too great for it to remain at the digital prototype stage.
In the case of the Alpine Celebration, the eagerness to conceive a stylish celebratory car in the true Alpine tradition served as the starting point of the project. This ambition has always been tempered by the requirement to produce a realistic interpretation right down to the tiniest details.
Throughout 2015, the Alpine Celebration will attend a number of special events dedicated to Alpine's 60th anniversary. Notably, it will put in an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 26-28), not to mention the popular ‘Alpine Saga' reunion in Dieppe organised by the Association des Anciens d'Alpine on September 11-13.