Renault Group boss Carlos Ghosn arrived at yesterday’s Alpine Vision reveal in Monaco trailed by a phalanx of cameras, popping flashes, and flustered minions. Most major politicians don’t have an entourage this attentive, but the fact that the grandest of grande fromages was here at all tells you what you need to know about how serious he is about reanimating Alpine.
Alpine, by the way, is a subsidiary of the French carmaker that specializes on sporty automobiles.
"Why now?" I asked him.
"Because of what has happened in the Group during the past five years," he replied, "Renault is in a position today to build a brand patiently, from a solid base. We have a good financial platform to work from, so we can put in the necessary long-term investment."
In other words, Alpine’s funky new castle isn’t built on sand. This second concept, following last year’s Le Mans Celebration car, is very pretty and beautifully executed, if a little too retrospective. But it’s also virtually identical to the real thing.
"It is very--very--close to the production car," Ghosn insisted. And that, we can reveal, will rock up before the year’s end, though not at any motor show, ahead of a mid-2017 on-sale date. It will have an all-new, ultra-lightweight chassis, currently being fine-tuned by Renault Sport, backed up by an all-new, four-cylinder turbocharged engine and seven-speed dual-clutch auto ’box. Target weight is around 1,100kg, and power output is between 250hp and 300hp. Renault reckons there’s a sweet spot between Lotus’s track-oriented featherweights and Porsche’s heavier 718 Boxster.
For a company whose adventures in luxury have often ended in disaster, Ghosn isn’t shy about using the word "premium," and the Vision’s cabin suggests an Audi TT-like level of technical detail and material quality. There will be more to follow, too, an admission that caught the PR machine a little off-guard.
"You can’t build a brand with one model," Ghosn conceded. "So we will start with this car, test the water, and move forward step-by-step."
This article originally appeared on TopGear.com. Minor tweaks have been made.