Like all brands focused on competition, the list of vehicles produced by Alpine forms a genealogy as complete as it is complex. Always with not a few unique specimens, designed exclusively for a specific race or season. But nevertheless, with regard to series cars, the list amounts to only eight models. Seven if we count to GT4 from 1962 as a simple four-seater version of the A110. A brief sum in which we find as the main reason the stoppage registered from 1995 to the recent 2017.
Years of inactivity for Alpine, awaiting the spectacular rebirth it now experiences thanks to the launch of the new A110 and the presence in F1. A commercial strategy in which Renault abandons its name and logo in favor of sealing its most radical projects both on the street and on the circuits under the Alpine brand. For all this, the Alpine A30 is worth remembering on its 610th anniversary. Thought to be the successor to the GTA V6 Turbo, this sports car with the engine hung behind the rear axle was the hope to reverse a losing streak of sales. A process that, together with the crisis of the early nineties, called into question models like this one in companies like Renault.
Even more so after the commercial failure of the model, of which only a little more than 800 units were shipped during its four years of manufacture. Something that, fortunately for the Alpine A610, has not so much to do with its qualities as with the market situation. A context where the practicality and driveability of this sports car could not compete with more established rivals such as the Porsche 911. However, after three decades, this penultimate series Alpine does not stop increasing its reputation among fans of the brand.
ALPINE A610. WITH ALL THE GENETICS OF THE BRAND
Presented at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show, the Alpine A610 has all the brand's genetics. Built on a central beam chassis, its engine hangs behind the rear axle and its bodywork is made of the lightest materials. The same characteristics of the most outstanding model of the brand: the A110. With this commitment as continuous as it is purist, Renault wanted to overcome the poor results of the GTA, paradoxically creating a car very similar to its predecessor. In the section of the bodywork, it uses not a few elements already known, providing only some notable novelties such as the retractable headlights.
Regarding the motor, a PVR block was taken as the start. The ingenuity developed in the seventies between Renault, Peugeot and Volvo, which has motorized family members as diverse as the R30 or the Volvo 760. Of course, in the case of the Alpine A610 it was given a sporty verve. Equipped with 12 valves and electronic injection, this V6 at 90º of almost three liters delivers 250CV at 5.750 rpm. More than enough to reach 265 km / h. A figure he was easy to approach thanks to the action of the Garret T3 turbocharger.
When it comes to the chassis, a meticulous job was done to prepare the legacy of the old GTA to a higher rigidity. Characteristic that, added to the good distribution of weights, made the Alpine A610 a vehicle with good behavior in curves. A not inconsiderable fact, since It is strange to see a sports car with an engine hanging behind the rear axle with a behavior as noble, foreseeable and safe as that of the A610. In fact, reading the tests of the moment this seems to be its main advantage over the GTA, which required a greater skill at the wheel than if you were driving a Porsche 911.
A610 FRONT TO FRONT WITH 911. REAR DUEL
Today cars tend to look more and more alike. Therefore, it is a merit to maintain mechanical characteristics different from those of the majority. Something that is seen with the persistent resistance of the Porsche 911, which remains true to the idea of a sports car with an engine hanging behind the rear axle. However, during the 90s this was not the only one. With a model raised from the fifties A108, Alpine remained faithful to that idea embodying it in the A610. Mind you, while Porsche has turned the 911 into a commercially successful car, Alpine couldn't get enough of it on its bills. Already played since the late eighties, as we mentioned before, the A610 was born with the vocation of being a success.
Vocation frustrated, since it had difficult competition with its most direct competitor. As far as price is concerned, it only cost 15-17% less than the German one. Specifically if you made the comparison with a Carrera 2. Very little difference when, in addition, in the case of the Alpine, you were still acquiring a Renault. Characteristic that already alienates wealthy customers interested in a sports car not because of its mechanics, but because of its projection of social position. Outside of these potential customers, the Porsche 911 was still more attractive to customers purely "racing".
Why? Well, because as it entered the world of high-end sports cars, the 911 was much more radical than the docile Alpine A610. At this point, what was the main letter of introduction of our protagonist became one of his defects compared to his most direct competitor. So things, Renault ceased production of Alpine cars in 1995 until the introduction of the new A110 four years ago. Of course, thirty years after the birth of the A610, it has been for fans as the Alpine with better and more balanced behavior. A smooth sports car that ages very well.