2023 Alpine R5 Hot hatch begins brand’s EV-only future

2023 Alpine R5 Hot hatch begins brand’s EV-only future

R5 hot hatch marks start of Alpine’s EV renaissance. Renault-owned brand’s EV-only line-up will follow the R5 with an SUV and sports car.

Alpine’s reinvention as an electric performance brand will kick off in 2024 with the arrival of the R5 hot hatch, which will also play a key role in showcasing the Renault Group’s EV technology. The new Alpine R5 will be launched alongside the revived Renault 5 EV, which will replace the Zoe as the French firm’s entry-level electric hatch.

The R5 will be the first of three fully electric Alpine models that will spearhead the brand’s transformation from offering just the A110 sports car into what Renault bosses have called a ‘mini Ferrari’, with a line-up of EV-only premium models and responsibility for the group’s motorsport projects.

Alpine will be a stand-alone brand with a distinct model line-up, but bosses are aiming to build strong links between it and the Renault brand to reinforce the main marque’s performance credentials and desirability. For example, the rebranded Alpine Formula 1 team uses Renault E-Tech-branded powertrains. As part of that plan, Alpine will also produce range-topping performance versions of Renault’s key EV-only models and, potentially, an ‘Alpine-Line’ trim level.

The Alpine R5 will be joined in the firm’s initial EV-only line-up by a C-segment crossover and the A110 successor, which is being developed in partnership with Lotus. Whereas the A110 replacement will have a bespoke platform, the R5 and SUV will use the same Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance underpinnings as their Renault sibling models. The Renault 5 will adopt the CMF-BEV platform that is an evolution of the architecture used for the Zoe.

As previously revealed by Autocar, the standard 5 will get a 134bhp electric motor, but the Alpine version will instead use the 215bhp motor developed for the forthcoming Mégane EV. It will be front mounted and drive the front wheels, a decision that makes the platform suitable and will allow Alpine to imbue the car with traditional hot hatch handling traits.

Because of the extra demands of the larger motor, the Alpine R5 is likely to use the largest, 52kWh battery that is offered for the CMF-BEV and will allow for a range of around 200 miles. Alpine is targeting a 0-62mph time of around six seconds.

The platform is likely to allow for a suspension set-up that features MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear. The Alpine R5 will also receive a major styling makeover from the Renault version and is expected to gain a revised front end and larger rear wing, both to make it stand out and to boost performance. The styling is likely to take cues from the original Renault 5 Alpine (branded the 5 Gordini in the UK) and the later Renault 5 Turbo. Renault is aiming for the entry-level 5 to cost around £18,500 when it goes on sale, although the higher specification and greater power of the Alpine version mean that car is expected to cost substantially more.

Alpine’s electric crossover will be based on the larger CMF-EV platform that is used for the Mégane EV and closely related Nissan Ariya. This car could be presented as an Alpine Mégane, although with the more premium positioning of the model, the firm might not feel it needs the Alpine branding to sell range-topping versions. In that case, the Alpine SUV could feature bespoke bodywork and a nameplate, although the technology would be heavily based on the Mégane.

Alpine has confirmed that its performance crossover will use a twin-engine, all-wheel-drive set-up, with a 215bhp motor driving the front axle. The company has promised “a big surprise” on the rear axle. As a guide, the Ariya will be offered in range-topping e-4orce Performance guise with twin motors, giving a combined 389bhp and 442lb ft, and a 248-mile range from an 87kWh battery. That model will cover 0-62mph in 5.1sec. Although the Mégane EV will be launched next year, the Alpine SUV is not expected until closer to 2025, allowing time for the brand to do more bespoke performance tuning. As well as the potential for a different rear motor, the firm has hinted that this will include the use of torque vectoring to better manage the driving experience and power. Meanwhile, Alpine and Lotus are continuing the joint development of a new electric sports car platform that will be used for the A110 successor and a Lotus EV. The firms have revealed little about the progress of the project, although Lotus is leading the development of the architecture. Renault has outlined plans for a new nickel, manganese and cobalt-based battery cell that, it says, will “cover 100% of future BEV launches across all segments”, which is likely to include the A110 successor in around 2025.

Minimising the weight of those batteries will be a key priority for Lotus and Alpine, given the lightweight focus of their previous models, and the emphasis on handling is likely to result in the use of a single motor driving the rear axle.

R5 (middle) is due in 2024, the SUV and A110 successor in 2025. R5 will add a sporty front end and rear wing to Renault’s 5. The Alpine R5 will use a 215bhp motor. It will be front mounted and drive the front wheels

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