Alpine will unveil its A290 in June: does this mean small, fun electric hot hatches are on the horizon?

Alpine A290
(Image credit: Alpine)

French sports car manufacturer Alpine has confirmed that its A290 model - the result of the stunning A290 Beta Concept revealed last year - is currently undergoing final development and tuning before an official unveiling in June of this year.

As a reminder, the A290 will share much of its electrical underpinnings with the upcoming Renault 5, an electric model that is due for an official reveal at next week’s Geneva Motorshow. However, Alpine has added its own sporting touches to produce something that handles and responds like its formidable A110 sports car, but is set to be easier to use on a daily basis.

The A290 Beta concept featured ridiculously oversized wheels, aggressive and almost rally-inspired bodywork, as well as protruding front headlamps, which appear to have been carried over in these cold-weather prototypes. The centrally placed driving position, unsurprisingly, has not.

Alpine A290

(Image credit: Alpine)

Despite this, the low, squat five-seater bears many of the hallmarks of a classic hot hatch, albeit one with battery packs neatly smuggled underneath the car.

Philippe Krief, Alpine CEO, says that the most recent bout of testing in Sweden's hostile Lapland is to "confirm the direction we have taken with handling and agility, which is part of our DNA on low grip conditions."

According to Alpine, the A290 will also feature a race-inspired flat-bottomed sport steering wheel that has been finished in Nappa leather. It features buttons that operate what Alpine refers to as "three essential functions borrowed from Alpine's Formula 1 steering wheels". These include OV (Overtake), RCH (Recharge) and Drive modes.

Despite the fact Alpine is keeping technical specification and power outputs close to its chest, reports from Autocar suggest that the A290 will borrow elements of Renault’s Megane E-Tech electric powertrain, including a 215bhp electric motor. It is also likely a higher-powered version will also be on offer.

On top of this, Alpine is likely going to use the latest generation of Renault's electric battery packs (these will also be seen in Renault 5 EV) in order to achieve the energy density and performance promised by the company's engineers.

A return to Hot Hatch heyday 

Alpine A290

(Image credit: Alpine)

Although the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N has largely been cited as the first proper electric hot hatch to enter the market, it remains a far cry from the small but feisty pocket rockets we remember from the internal combustion engine era.

After all, Hyundai's beast is 4.7 metres in length and offers a total power output of 650hp, which is enough to embarrass even fairly modern supercars. 

Alpine's 3.9m A290, on the other hand, looks set to offer a much more compact hot hatch package with the sort of power outputs that once featured in the famous GTI, SR, RS and Turbo-badged hot hatch models of the 80s and 90s.

Weight is obvisouly still going to be a huge issue, seeing as battery packs add an abundance of unwanted mass. But if Alpine's experienced engineers can work on masking the heft, we may well see a return to an era of small, light (ish) vehicles that are not only practical, but also an absolute hoot on the right roads.

However, seeing as Alpine's meticulous engineers have been busy fettling the recipe for more than two years now, you can bet the A290 won't come cheap.  

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Leon Poultney

Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.