Skip advert
Advertisement

The new Alpine A290 sounds like the electric hot hatch we’ve been waiting for

We’ve seen the concept, driven a prototype, and now Alpine has unveiled its A290 hot hatch in its final form

The era of battery-powered hot hatchbacks is fast approaching, and with its new A290, Alpine has the ingredients to fight at the front of the field. A drive of an A290 prototype earlier this year left us impressed with its intuitive handling and dynamics, and now, Alpine has pulled the camouflage off to reveal the production-spec car – and its final technical specification.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The A290 is the first of Alpine’s new era of EVs, and will later be joined by a performance crossover and an electric replacement for the A110. Taking the new Renault 5 hatch as a base, Alpine has comprehensively reworked its chassis and installed a more powerful drivetrain for its high-performance version – much like it did with the Renault 5 Alpine Turbo in the early 80s. 

The R5 DNA is plain to see in the design, but the A290 has undergone a major visual transformation thanks to 60mm wider tracks, wheel arch extensions and new bumpers. The headlights incorporate Alpine’s ‘X’ logo with additional fog-lamp-style DRL units attached to the front bumper. Strakes pressed into the rear doors – a feature that will be shared with future Alpines – differentiate it from the Renault, too. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

At just under 4 metres long and 1.82 metres wide, the A290 is about the same size as a Volkswagen Polo, but weighs more than a traditional petrol supermini at 1479kg (pending homologation). In the context of comparable EVs, though, the A290 looks much more competitive – Mini’s Cooper SE carries an extra 126kg, for instance.

Renault’s AmpR Small platform underpins the A290, with a 52kWh battery pack mounted in the floor and an aluminium subframe carrying the front-mounted motor (Alpine says there are no plans for a dual-motor version – yet).  The unit has been lifted from Renault’s Megane E-Tech, generating 174bhp and 210lb ft of torque in the A290 GT and GT Premium. The GT Performance and flagship GTS, meanwhile, are boosted to 217bhp and 221lb ft, enabling a 0-62mph time of 6.4sec – a second quicker than the less powerful models. The extra power also raises the top speed from 99mph to 106mph. 

The A290 isn’t a car for EV speed freaks, then, but it is focused on delivering an engaging, entertaining driving experience reminiscent of a traditional hot hatch. To that end, Alpine has fitted bespoke suspension hardware – including unique anti-roll bars and Megane RS-style hydraulic bump stops – with a chassis setup designed to offer an ‘incisive front end’ and a rear end that is ‘sufficiently mobile’ when lifting off the accelerator. Like an old-school French hatch, in other words. The A290 also benefits from the R5’s independent multi-link rear suspension layout, rather than a torsion beam as commonly used in this class. 

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The brakes have been lifted from the A110, with Brembo four-piston calipers and 320mm discs at the front and 288mm items at the rear. They’re operated via a by-wire connection and Alpine promises that the pedal has a seamless transition between regen and the friction brakes, the latter of which are also used to modulate torque to the front wheels (there’s no mechanical limited-slip diff). A set of 19-inch alloys come as standard, with the GT and GT Premium coming with Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres and GT Performance and GTS models getting grippier Pilot Sport 5Ss. Both compounds have been developed specifically for the A290.

There are four driving modes to choose from in the A290 – Normal, Sport, Individual and Save, the latter of which is designed for maximum range (236 miles WLTP, pending homologation). Individual mode allows you to mix and match settings for the throttle response, steering weight, ambient lighting and synthesised Alpine Drive Sound, which has been derived from the noise made by the electric motor under load. We’ve listened to it briefly and it’s not dissimilar to the Porsche Taycan’s Electric Sport Sound. 

The A290 is again reminiscent of the R5 inside, but with a moodier, more purposeful atmosphere and performance-oriented touches you won’t find in the Renault. The steering wheel, for instance, is bespoke to the Alpine with a flat-bottom, a 12-o’clock stripe and a rotary dial to switch between three levels of regen. A button marked ‘OV’ sits near your right thumb and activates the A290’s overboost function, delivering extra power for up to 10sec with a 30sec cooldown time. 

Advertisement - Article continues below
Skip advert
Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The drive, neutral and reverse buttons on the centre console will be familiar to current A110 owners, but the A290 opens up a new way to interact with your car via a Telemetrics system within the dual-screen infotainment system. This offers live data for G-forces, power usage and battery status, as well as a coaching function to fine tune driving techniques on track. There are even video-game-style driving challenges designed to be completed on closed roads – if you’ve always wanted to try out Gran Turismo licence tests in real life, this is the place to do it. 

The A290 will initially be available in a Premiere Edition launch spec, limited to 1955 units and available in three unique liveries – including one inspired by the A290_β concept car. All models get LED headlights, adaptive cruise and heated sports seats as standard, as well as 100kW DC charging ability to top up from 15-80 per cent in half an hour.

The GT Premium adds tinted glass, a Devialet audio system and a heated steering wheel, sitting alongside the GT Performance with its uprated power output and less comprehensive equipment list. At the top of the tree is the A290 GTS, combining the kit levels of the GT Premium with the extra power of the GT Performance. UK pricing for the A290 is yet to be announced, but it’s expected to cost from around €38,000 in Europe when it goes on sale.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Alpine A290 prototype review – first taste of new electric hot hatch
Alpine A290 prototype
Reviews

Alpine A290 prototype review – first taste of new electric hot hatch

Alpine’s all-electric future starts here, with the A290 hot hatch. We test a prototype in the frozen north
19 Jul 2024
Ford Focus ST Track Pack v Honda Civic Type R: sharpened Focus tackles the hot hatch king
Ford Focus ST Track Pack v Honda Civic Type R
Group tests

Ford Focus ST Track Pack v Honda Civic Type R: sharpened Focus tackles the hot hatch king

The Civic Type R has so far seen off all challengers, but will it meet its match in the trackday-friendly Focus ST?
8 Jul 2024
Fast Ford heaven: a tour of the ultimate Ford garage
Ford Heritage Collection tour
Features

Fast Ford heaven: a tour of the ultimate Ford garage

Who doesn’t love a fast Ford? Prepare for a nostalgia overload as we get a guided tour of Ford UK’s magnificent, newly rehomed Heritage Collection
7 Jul 2024
The Mini JCW E Prototype provides a sneak peak at firm’s hottest electric hatch
Mini John Cooper Works E Prototype – front
News

The Mini JCW E Prototype provides a sneak peak at firm’s hottest electric hatch

Mini’s first electric JCW model will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in prototype form
5 Jul 2024
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

New EU tyre rules could save motorists £6 billion in new tyres
Tyres
News

New EU tyre rules could save motorists £6 billion in new tyres

400 million tyres per year are replaced before reaching the legal limit for tread depth, but new EU regulations will make tyres safer right down to 1.…
17 Jul 2024
Theon Design GBR003 2024 review – a Porsche 911 Targa with GT3 performance
Theon Design GBR003
Reviews

Theon Design GBR003 2024 review – a Porsche 911 Targa with GT3 performance

For its third UK commission, the Oxfordshire-based Porsche restorer and enhancer has turned its attention to a Targa, and the result is out of this wo…
19 Jul 2024
Alpine A290 prototype review – first taste of new electric hot hatch
Alpine A290 prototype
Reviews

Alpine A290 prototype review – first taste of new electric hot hatch

Alpine’s all-electric future starts here, with the A290 hot hatch. We test a prototype in the frozen north
19 Jul 2024