Home » The Alpine A290 Electric Hot Hatch Is Reasonably Light And Has Its Own Driving Minigames

The Alpine A290 Electric Hot Hatch Is Reasonably Light And Has Its Own Driving Minigames

Alpine A290 Gts Ts
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The current crop of electric performance cars is massively impressive, but also so quick and so hefty that many are difficult to enjoy on public roads. So, how do we fix this? Here’s one potential answer. This is the Alpine A290, a widebody hot hatch based on the reborn electric Renault 5, and it looks to be an absolute screamer not because it’s massively powerful, but because it’s in the right weight class.

Part of the problem with electric performance cars is that batteries are heavy, and when it comes to handling, weight is the enemy of fun. Sure, the Ford Mustang Mach-E may be an absolute piss missile in a straight line, but chuck it into a corner, and you’re suddenly extremely aware that it weighs more than Lake Michigan. Sure, you can technically throw enough spring rate and rubber at any problem and generate respectable numbers, but numbers don’t always equal joie de vivre, and Alpine seems to know that.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

As such, the Alpine A290 weighs in at just 3,260 pounds, and with 215 horsepower on tap in GT Performance and GTS trims, the A290 can be ordered with a power-to-weight ratio slightly better than a MKV Volkswagen Golf GTI. The result is a claimed zero-to-62 mph time of 6.4 seconds, which is bang-on perfect for a hot hatch. Sure, that’s not Hyundai Elantra N quick, but a time like that is still plenty quick enough without getting into serious trouble in the real world.

Alpine A290

Of course, hot hatchbacks are just as much about chassis hardware as they are about zesty acceleration, so the Alpine A290 pairs MacPherson strut front suspension with a multilink arrangement in the back, the latter of which should offer more sophisticated handling than the beam axle setups so popular in small hatchbacks. Add in four-piston Brembo front calipers to help bring the A290 to a halt and three different uniquely tuned Michelin Pilot Sport tires to choose from including grippy Pilot Sport S 5s and cold weather Alpin 5 winter tires, and this little electric hot hatch promises to take up the gauntlet of a lift-off oversteer lineage.

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Alpine A290 Gts Alpine Vision Blue

Alpine A290 Gts Alpine Vision Blue

So what tradeoffs is Alpine making to get the curb weight of its electric hot hatch below 3,300 pounds? Well, it’s obviously front-wheel-drive, but the big one is the 52 kWh battery pack, good for a WLTP range of 236 miles. That certainly doesn’t make the Alpine A290 the longest-range EV out there, but it should still be usable. Likewise, peak DC fast charging of 100 kW isn’t phenomenal, but it’s plenty enough to get the job done. Oh, and top speed is the other tradeoff, a mere 105 mph. Still, how often will you be V-maxing this thing?

Alpine A290 Gts Alpine Vision Blue

It’s built for corners rather than pure straight-line performance, as seen by the presence of a g-meter and lap timer in the infotainment. Oh, and then there are the built-in challenges, which work a bit like Gran Turismo license tests in real life. Should you find yourself on a closed course, data drawn from in-car sensors can gamify the high-performance driving experience, which then scores you so you can boast about your prowess. At the same time, Alpine claims to have challenges that can be taken up on the open road to “teach anticipation in driving.” Neat.

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Alpine A290 Gts Alpine Vision Blue

Speaking of in-car tech, the Alpine A290 features a nine-speaker sound system by French firm Devialet. If this system advertised at 615 watts is anything like the brand’s Phantom I loudspeaker, it won’t be the best for critical listening, but it should feature surprising bass, which would be perfect for the stereotypical hot hatch soundtrack of UK Garage, drum and bass, and tech house.

Alpine A290 Première Edition Nival White

Will the Alpine A290 come to America? It’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Surfing a wave of F1 notoriety, the French brand is looking at entering the U.S. market in 2027, and although the real cash cow will be an incoming SUV, the A290 wouldn’t be a bad entry point for the brand. For now, the hot hatch isn’t dying in the face of electrification, it’s just getting weirder than we ever anticipated, and we’re excited for that.

(Photo credits: Alpine)

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Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
28 days ago

*sweating intensifies*

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
29 days ago

I’m still mad at Alpine for planning to enter the US market only to deny us their most iconic and asked-for car, offering a stupid SUV instead. Until they bring us an A110 with a four-cylinder out back, Alpine is dead to me.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
29 days ago

You call this journalism? No link to an order form? Sheesh. /s

Oh, and how do I order one with proper rear door handles? Stop with the c-pillar crap already. PAHLAEEZE.

The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
29 days ago

I wish I were small enough to fit in and enjoy such a machine. I think this would be epic

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
29 days ago

This is impressive. To get over 200 miles but still around 3000lbs has my interest piqued. It might never come over here to the states but it shows that it can be done.

Joke #119!
Joke #119!
29 days ago

Q: How does one replace that battery?
Cuz some of us might want it for the next 20 years.
Looks like it is the first thing bolted on at the factory.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
29 days ago

I’m not looking to replace my Fiesta ST anytime soon (knock on wood, I just hit six years and 40,000 completely trouble-free miles) but this would do the job quite nicely. 6.4 0-60 is plenty quick enough, and if the handling is good it will provide plenty of smiles.

Anders
Anders
29 days ago

Those hints of a air-intakes in the rear doors are rather lame, especially when it’s front wheel drive.. A mystery why it’s not rear wheel drive, just like 5 Turbo it tries so (too) hard to emulate

Last edited 29 days ago by Anders
Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
28 days ago
Reply to  Anders

Counterpoint: they’re not functional in any way, but they add some visual interest, and help differentiate it from the 5. I think they’re kind of funky (in a good way), though our Goth uncle is likely to tell me six different reasons why I’m wrong…

Alexi Antoniou
Alexi Antoniou
29 days ago

Honest question— why front wheel drive? I thought EV’s would open rwd to the world of economy cars without price/packaging penalties. Also, any word on price? this thing is amazing.

World24
World24
29 days ago
Reply to  Alexi Antoniou

I’d wager it’s about keeping driving dynamics somewhat typical for the type of person who’d go out and buy it.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
29 days ago
Reply to  Alexi Antoniou

Front drive has some advantages for traction in certain circumstances. And it’s possible to engineer front drive for high power, high performance and handling. It’s just more costly, and not always fully pursued by manufacturers. The devil is torque steer, which is difficult to conquer without diluting both the handling and the torque allowed to the wheels. But since this is an electric car, electric power steering offers ways to counter torque steer forces. New tech offers new ways to solve old problems.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
29 days ago
Reply to  Alexi Antoniou

This is a common misconception I always try to address. Look at that cutaway image: EVs still have a lot to package other than the cells and motors. There’s on board chargers, power regulators, battery cooling all sorts of stuff. This is much harder on a small car, simply because there is less space to put things. The Honda e I reviewed here was RWD, but you gave up a lot of trunk space and didn’t really gain anything (especially not a frunk) apart from RWD and a really tight turning circle.

Alexi Antoniou
Alexi Antoniou
24 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

appreciate the response! thanks!

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
29 days ago

This would be a prefect replacement for my e-Golf(if I’m ever ready to get rid of it). The weight is damn similar, but 20mph higher limit, 100 miles more range, and a faster 0-60. This thing should be a blast!

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
29 days ago

Where do I sign up?
(Anywhere but the USA – Because “Freedom”)

The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
29 days ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

irony – because all the so-called ‘freedom’ they bleat about is 99.999% about gunz. We’re not free when it comes to the timely delivery of medicines, the ability to retire while we can still walk straight, or the right to own a car without 600 pounds of nanny state safety shit tacked onto it

JTilla
JTilla
29 days ago

This. The freedom of gunz doesn’t mean shit compared to all the things that aren’t free. Cheap medicine like overseas, cool cars cause of chicken tax, can’t engine swap anything without having a hernia about emissions if even done right, the expectation to not have all my data raped and sold to the highest bidder, it goes on and on.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
29 days ago

This is roughly the same weight as my Kona N. I like it. I like it a lot. This is what EVs are missing. Going 0-60 so fast it’s physically painful is cool and all but regardless of what tech wizardry is under foot no 5,000+ pound car is going to feel good and communicative in the twisties.

But a 3300 pound car that only has a single, powerful-ish motor powering the front wheels? You’re in for a good time. A very good time. I took my Kona N out to a high performance driver education day last weekend and I still have a shit eating grin on my face…and while I’m a card carrying VW Hater I’m not going to sit here and tell you my GTI wasn’t a hoot on backroads because it absolutely was.

Fjord
Fjord
29 days ago

Very glad that someone isn’t insisting that everything has to have 500 miles of range in the interest of keeping weight down and fun up. Hopefully others catch on to this philosophy. Couldn’t care less about the game BS, but I suppose that’s essentially free content for those that want it.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
29 days ago

Alpine: cars you didn’t know you were waiting for.

Rippstik
Rippstik
29 days ago

Can it be considered a hot hatch without a manual transmission? That’s up for debate. What’s not up for debate is how great those fog lights look on it’s nose.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
29 days ago
Reply to  Rippstik

Oh it can be. VW developed the first commercially widespread dual clutch specifically for the Golf R32 in the early 2000s and all spicy Golf variants have offered DCTs ever since. The Evo 10 also offered a DCT that’s usually the preferred transmission for folks looking to use an Evo as god intended. There are others as well.

DCTs are as much a part of the hot hatch tradition as manuals at this point, like it or not.

JTilla
JTilla
29 days ago

The evo is a bad example because their transmissions were shit but yeah dct is a thing now regardless of whether I think it constitutes real driving enjoyment or not.

ES
ES
29 days ago
Reply to  Rippstik

maybe that’s where the “games” and “teaching anticipation” come in? replacing the engagement of listening/feeling your shift points, with the engagement of whatever the mystery road games are?

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