Archive for the ‘Concept Cars’ Category

Renault have just released details of a concept car they call the A110-50 and very pretty it looks too. With dashing looks and a svelte design that shouts ‘please make me – don’t leave me as a one-off concept!’

The fact is though that there have not been too many cars produced by Renault over the past decade or so that could call themselves ‘design icons’ although the company has often come up with some impressive-looking design concepts such as the Fluence, Nepta and DeZir.

Despite this latent creativity the company always seem to slip back into producing good but vanilla-flavoured motor cars that of course they hope will appeal to the widest market possible. However, to be fair, today there are some notable exceptions such as the Clio Cup and Megane Coupe RS – two cars that would feature highly on list a list of brilliant ‘driver’s cars’ but not too highly on a list of memorable car designs.

Back to the A110-50. This one-off concept car is finished in Alpine Blue and features a carbon fibre bodywork. The technical underpinnings of the car are heavily dependent on the Megane Trophy which is no bad thing and features the 3.5 V6 24 valve engine which produces 400 hp at 7200 rpm.

Much attention has been paid to the development of the aerodynamics of the A110-50 with the inclusion of a front splitter, rear diffuser and adjustable rear wing using the science of Computational Fluid Dynamics as found in the labs of F1 teams – enough said!

There is plenty more techno-babble to support the raison d’etre behind Renault’s A110-50 but perhaps more interestingly it nods retrospectively and pays homage to the original Alpine A110 from (almost) 50 years ago – hence the ‘A110-50’ moniker.

The Alpine A110 ‘Berlinette’ as it was called, was never originally a Renault, it just bought their engines and made them more powerful. The car was made from 1961 to 1977 in the Alpine factory in Dieppe – yes the very same place you sail into from Newhaven to buy your cheap booze. It is also where RenaultSport models are built today.

The Berlinette certainly looked the part and one can’t help feeling that with the right financial muscle and commitment the car could have been a direct competitor for Porsche’s 911 to this very day so successful was the competition record of this car. The A110 took the honours in several major rally events including the Monte Carlo in 1971.

Renault eventually did take control of Alpine in the early 1970’s and the works team blitzed the competition by winning the very first World Rally Championship in 1973. However the A110’s success was cut short by the arrival of the Lancia Stratos the following year. That car moved the game on way beyond the capabilities of the A110 but the Berlinette had already written its entry in the history of truly great rally cars.

Will Renault turn the A110-50 into a reality? The car would certainly give the company a healthy dose of street credibility but at what price? The A110-50 would not be a cheap car to make and Renault do not have a good track record selling expensive cars to the general public – think Vel Satis and Avantime. Maybe the new car should be more than just a nostalgic look back at the past but a car that captures the spirit of the original Berlinette at an affordable price – now that would be interesting.

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