It has been rumoured for years, but Renault has now said it will make a new Alpine sports car. And it will have rear-wheel drive, if not necessarily a rear-mounted, or even mid-mounted, engine.
'We have access to Nissan's rear-wheel drive technology,' said product-planning chief Patrick Pelata at a secret preview of another future Renault range, 'but we can't make a car of the Nissan 350Z's market positioning and cost. The sales would be low.
'The new car would need to be small, light and affordable, especially given the CO2 problem. The project is alive, but I won't say more than that.'
Pelata did, however, point out the parallels between Alpine and Porsche. 'They had the same start-up story, making sports cars based on small, rear-engined production cars. But the end was not so good for Alpine.'
It's almost certain that a new Alpine sports car would be built at the factory in Dieppe which still has Alpine signage and whose employees wear Alpine-badged clothing. Currently it is mainly occupied in building Renaultsport versions of the Clio, the Mégane and the Twingo, but more obviously Alpine-like projects have included the Clio V6 and the Renault Sport Spider.