- Renault Sport and Renault Sport Racing replaced by Alpine performance brand
- Alpine will be an electric only manufacturer
- Australian market was consistently in the top five for global Renault Sport sales
As of May 1, 2021, Renault Sport, the motorsport and performance arm of the French automaker, no longer exists.
The fabled marque has been retired, consigned to the history books, and in its place, an even older brand takes up the Renault performance mantle – Alpine.
The announcement of Renault Sport’s impending demise came back in January 2021, when the carmaker outlined its ‘Renaulution’ vision for the future.
In it, Renault stated that its Alpine brand would be profitable by 2025 and that both Renault Sport and Renault Sport Racing would fall under its umbrella.
“As part of the reorganization of the Renault Group by brand, it is essential that the various entities that make up the business unit bear the Alpine name and embody the values and ambitions of the brand,” Laurent Rossi, Alpine CEO, said.
“Alpine aims to be a premium sports brand at the forefront of innovation and technology. Alpine Cars with its expertise and experience in sports vehicles is a master card in achieving our goals.”
Of course, for those that are fans of Formula 1, the writing was on the wall even sooner for Renault Sport, when it was announced in September 2020 that the Enstone-based R.S. team would be rebranded as Alpine F1 for the 2021 F1 season.
And yet, the news is still surprising. It’s also a very bitter pill to swallow for driving enthusiasts around the world, as R.S. was considered, since its inception in 1976, to make the best hot hatchbacks ever to grace terra firma.
The list of superlative hatchbacks is seemingly endless, but some of the performance arm’s best hits included the 5 Turbo, 5 Turbo 2, Clio Williams, Clio V6, Clio 182 Trophy, Megane R26.R, Clio III RS, Megane 275 Trophy-R, and most recently, the Megane RS Trophy-R – the fastest FWD ever to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Locally, it must also be frustrating news for Renault dealers across the country, as Aussie buyers were routinely in the top five for global Renault Sport sales.
However, considering that Alpine has only sold two cars in the last year in Australia (that’s not a joke - hands up if you're one of them, we'd love to hear from you!), it would make sense for Renault to give its new sports brand a slightly better product line-up than the excellent but misunderstood A110.
But that may not happen since Alpine is set to become an electric-only performance brand – which to many driving enthusiasts is an oxymoron.
We’ll have to wait until 2025 to see what Alpine and Lotus can come up with for the jointly developed Anglo-French electric creation, but in the interim it will be interesting to see what Alpine can offer Aussie enthusiasts besides a circa-$100,000 sportscar.
Renault Australia has told WhichCar it has no information regarding future Alpine-badged models for the local market and that at the moment, its attention is focussed on what will be Renault Sport’s last performance car – the Megane Trophy, which is still on sale.
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