Can the French build a true super car?
By John LeBlanc for MSN Autos Canada
We’ll be getting more, official details later on today, but earlier this week, images of a new super car from France’s Renault were splashed all over the Interweb. Called the Alpine A110-50, seen above, the mid-engine super car is a 50th-anniversary hommage to the original A110 that first appeared in 1961.
You may not know about the cult-ish Alpine, seen left. Dubbed the Berlinette, it was made by the small French outfit until 1977, using a plethora of Renault-sourced mills and parts. The A110 gained glory on the rally circuit, with its biggest moment winning the 1971 Monte Carlo rally.
Like many super cars, the new A110-50 is a bit of a hodge-podge of ideas and parts. Despite the extra spoilers and air ducts, keen observers will notice the new Alpine’s design is based off the Renault Dezir, seen right, a concept car from the 2010 Paris auto show. And while the Dezir was powered by electricity alone, the A110-50 is motivated by a 400 hp gas vee-six.
We have no idea at this point if Renault plans on selling the A110-50 to the public. But if it did, I’d have to say it’s a bit of a risk. While a super car from Italy’s Ferrari, Maserati, or Lamborghini is easier to swallow, super car buyers may have to choke down the idea of a Gaulic sportster. The French, well, let’s just say, haven’t exactly had much success with in the segment.
Sure. There was France’s Venturi. Between 1984 and 2000 it tried to flog its Atlantique mid-engine super car, but with little success. And, er, that’s about it. (Please, don’t include Bugatti here. The Volkswagen Group-owned brand is about as French as bratwurst and lederhosen.)
The other problem with any French super car is the lack of an appropriately "super" powerplant. The French automakers don’t do big sedans that house the eight- and twelve-cylinder engines required for true super car status.
But what do you think? Can the new Alpine A110-50 finally break the French super car inferiority complex? Or will it remain a French-only curiosity?