Alpine has unveiled the future A290_β show car, a compact B-segment electric sports car designed to “trigger every driver’s competitive spirit and recast the notion of sports cars”.
The A290_β, to be launched in 2024, will be the French racing and sports car manufacturer’s first electric vehicle, opening a new chapter in the company’s almost 70-year-old history. Alpine said: “The brand is tapping into its motorsport heritage and essence, and venturing into new segments starting with an urban sports car.”
“The show car’s design, materials and technology encapsulate a new angle on electric cars that are just as suited for motor sport circuits as they are for everyday drives – and as exciting for the driver as they are for passengers.”
The company has finally recognised the low-carbon mobility as a crucial segment as it will try to catch up with other brands that have already forayed into EVs, while also embodying its unwavering commitment to sustainable motorsports.
According to the company, the actual production model will look a lot like the A290_β from the outside. Under the hood, it will sport two electric motors at the front and a whole new three-seat configuration, with the driver seated in the middle. The other models announced to complete Alpine’s Dream Garage are a GT crossover and the A110’s replacement, both of which will be 100 per cent electric.
But let’s take a look at the A290_β first. Antony Villain, design director at Alpine said: “The A290_β combines a racing soul with urban influences. It is designed for a new generation of hot-hatch enthusiasts. Its proportions and technical details instantly sweep you into a reinvented motorsport universe. To be true to Alpine’s driving-experience know-how, we placed the driver at the centre of the cockpit.”
And as Villain says, the car has taken a lot of inspiration from motorsports, including the Alpine A522, the F1 racing car with which Esteban Ocon won the Hungarian Grand Prix. The cockpit is minimalist, all the car’s functionalities are on the centreline where the driver sits.
A console built into the roof provides instant access to several features (kill switch, indicators, light settings, etc.). One thing that sets it apart from the rest of the new-gen EVs is that it has no screens inside. Alpine says this is so that the driver can focus on driving and racing. It does, however, have a slender head-up display, over the steering wheel, showing the essentials like speed and battery charge.
The dashboard is shaped like an arrow to highlight the centreline driving position, and the steering wheel is directly inspired by Alpine’s LMP2, A470 and Formula 1 A523 single-seaters. Its geometric gamepad-like design has a series of specific functions, including a red OV (Overtake) button to deliver a 10-second power boost, kind of like the “Attack Mode” seen in Formula E.
On the outside, the display model is 4.05 metres long, 1.85 metres wide and 1.48 metres high. Alpine said “the dynamic and categorically modern body, combining muscular shapes and razor-sharp technical details, radiates its uncompromising attitude to performance”.
The company also added that the designers have maximised the car’s aerodynamic performance and the sensations behind the wheel. The front bumper has large air inlets that enhance the car’s aerodynamics while cooling it more efficiently, and the floating rear-view mirrors also play a part in the car’s road grip.
There are other sculpted air inlets beneath the headlights to help smooth out air flow. In a striking design choice, the battery fans are kept visible, almost like a gaming PCs’ cooling fans.
The hallmark Alpine triangle, on the side window under a matte varnish, gives the car a techy, modern feel. And in the dark, it’s destined to become a head turner, with the glow inside lighting up the blue and magenta patterns. This motif is sprinkled all around the vehicle —the steering wheel has a small crystal triangle at the centre as well.
In terms of the engine spec, the French manufacturer has stayed tight lipped. But it has confirmed that the new model will come with a high-performance Brembo braking system, four-pot calipers, identical to that of the A110, hydraulic compression stops and an all-new multi-link rear axle. There are also three driving modes for tracks: Wet, Dry and Full.
Raphael Linari, Chief Designer at Alpine said: “We created something completely geared for the future. We wanted up-to-the-minute surfaces, details and materials, a vehicle that fulfils every Alpine promise, that’s exciting, surprising, and not even remotely nostalgic or backward-looking.”
We can agree that it does look all those, with even Goodwood questioning if Is the Alpine A290_β is the most exciting EV ever. We’ll await its official launch in 2024.