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The 220bhp Alpine A290 electric hot hatch will teach you how to slide it

Built-in ‘coaching’ and ‘challenges’ aim to make Alpine’s EV supermini as fun as the old-school

Published: 13 Jun 2024

Here it is then, Alpine’s second coming after the splendid A110 sports car and it could scarcely be more of a change. Joining the family alongside the (ageing but brilliant) turbocharged, mid-engined, rear-drive sports car is a front-wheel drive, electric hot hatchback.

As you’ll have guessed, the Alpine A290 is in fact the hot version of the new Renault 5. So it’s big on the retro touches: the ‘X’ motif spotlights, the creases in the bodywork that evoke the air intakes of the old mid-engined Renault 5 Turbo.

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We think it looks tremendous – and happy about it. How refreshing to see a fast car that’s smiling, not frowning.

Under that wheel-at-each-corner stance there’s a 52kWh battery mounted low in the usual ‘skateboard’ chassis fashion. It powers a front-mounted motor which offers 180bhp in the standard version or 220bhp in the GTS model, with up to 221lb ft.

With 1,479kg to tug along, it’s a quick car, but far from an EV drag race champion. Alpine says you can expect 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds when deploying launch control, so it’s quick in a ‘we miss the Fiesta ST too’ kinda way.

The engineers have cooked up something called Alpine Torque Technology (ATT) to maximise oomph without wheelspin or traction control spoiling your getaway. Good job they didn’t call it Alpine Responsive Swift Electrics.

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Meanwhile, the factory insists it’s been working hard on brake pedal feel and the cornering. New front and rear anti roll bars and bespoke suspension settings with rally-style hydraulic bump stops have been enlisted, and we’re promised “the rear axle is sufficiently mobile when lifting off the accelerator on winding stretches of road".

In fact, the car will actually teach you the dark arts of lift-off oversteer. One of the A290’s headline features is ‘Coaching’: a downloadable app that says it’ll improve your reflexes, teach you how to look ‘down the road’ when driving quickly, and even how to control a slide.

There are also ‘challenges’ built into the touchscreen, designed to encourage you to lift’n’coast to maximise range – 236 miles is the current estimate.

If you like your EV to have toys, modes and gimmicks, the A290 should deliver. There’s an ‘Overtake’ button on the steering wheel to unlock a 10 second power boost, which you can only use every 30 seconds. You can choose from four levels of re-gen braking. The audio system offers two versions of synthetic ‘engine’ noise. In the 10in screens you can render G-force, throttle or brake pedal pressure, temperatures, pressures, lap times… and Apple CarPlay.

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Prices are set to kick off where the top-of-the-range Renault 5 tails off, so expect a GT version with 180bhp to set you back around £36k, with a top-spec 220bhp coming in around £40,000.

But it won’t have the playground to itself. Mini’s electric Cooper S JCW is in the works, and we expect VW to splice ‘GTI’ with ‘EV’ before long too. Excited for the brave new world of ickle electric tykes?

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