The New Alpine A290 is the First Proper Electric Hot Hatchback

Is anyone’s dream garage only filled with electric cars? Well, Alpine’s ‘Dream Garage’ is and the first car in it is the new A290, the first true EV hot hatch. Alongside the upcoming GT C-Crossover and a new A110, Alpine hopes to create the perfect lineup of electric vehicles for car enthusiasts and has started with the hot hatch, a dying breed in a world of electrification and bloated SUVs.

Alpine A290

A Renault 5 With Anger Issues

The similarities with Renault’s compact EV are clearly noticeable, thanks to the two sharing the same platform. However, the A290 is 60mm wider and has a low, aggressive stance. The distinctive headlights have an X shape within, and display a welcome animation when the car detects the owner is approaching. The bulging rear arches and black surrounds show that this isn’t the cute, retro Renault 5, but instead a completely different beast.

The design isn’t just for looks, though. Alpine has considered that range is an important part of EV life, no matter the performance, and has developed the A290 accordingly. The air intake in the front bumper creates a beneficial airflow and the use of a ducktail spoiler, instead of something more pronounced, lowers drag. The standard 19-inch alloy wheels come in Iconic and Snowflake designs, both recognising Alpine’s heritage. Brembo calipers are available in Racing Red or Alpine Blue.

Alpine A290

Premium at a Price

The new Alpine A290 has a driver-focused interior, with a balance of sportiness and comfort. A generous boot capacity of 326 litres is impressive for a car its size. The sports steering wheel is trimmed in Nappa leather and features plenty of buttons. Some are to be expected, such as driving mode and phone controls, whereas the reportedly F1-inspired buttons are less common. The RCH (Recharge) rotary dial changes the level of regenerative braking, while the red OV (Overtake) button delivers extra power for up to 10 seconds. The 10.1-inch central screen is angled toward the driver and can show a range of information (ranging in utility) such as Google Maps and Google Assistant, live telemetry, live coaching, and driving challenges. A very fancy, bespoke Devialet sound system is also featured in higher trim levels.

The seats offer pronounced side bolsters for more spirited driving, but Alpine stresses that they won’t diminish everyday comfort. Lower trim levels get the seats trimmed in fabric made partially from recycled plastic and a deep blue 100% recycled fabric on the upper backrest. The dashboard, side of the centre console, and door panels are trimmed in the same material as the seats. All trims get the dashboard trimmed in Nappa leather, but it replaces the fabric on GT Premium and GTS versions, which also get a heated steering wheel.

Alpine A290

Good Things Come in Small Packages

The benefit of using the same platform as the dinky Renault 5 is the A290 shares its compact dimensions. This boosts agility, and ultimately, driving pleasure. The platform has a low centre of gravity and optimises weight distribution. The biggest benefit of a low centre of gravity for everyday driving is that it limits roll, so a less aggressive suspension setup is needed. In terms of suspension, the Alpine A290 has multi-link rear suspension, providing a sharper front end and stability when cornering at high speeds.

The all-aluminium subframe helps the A290 to weigh in at just 1,479 kg, making it pretty lithe nowadays. Other chassis traits, such as bespoke front and rear anti-roll bars are designed to make the A290 the ultimate EV for  B-road hooning. Electric vehicles often suffer from intrusive regen braking, but Alpine has worked with Brembo to hopefully find a happy compromise between generating energy and the feeling of hydraulic braking.

The feeling of the Alpine A290 can be adapted easily as well. There are four driving modes: Save, Normal, Sport and Personal. They all offer different levels of comfort, efficiency and sportiness, while Personal offers the choice of independently altering steering assistance and throttle response. Lastly, and to the relief of purists, ESC can be entirely deactivated, while the My Safety Switch button can disable all safety systems.

Performance or Practicality?

The A290 comes with two different power outputs: 180bhp in the base version and GT Premium, and 220bhp in the  GT Performance and GTS. The throttle response is calibrated to be progressive and easy to live with, rather than scaring your passengers every time you leave the traffic lights. However, if you do fancy showing off, there is a launch control function to make use of the A290’s 300Nm of torque. On the topic of performance, the more powerful A290 can reach 62mph in 6.4 seconds from standstill, a respectable figure – but one that is dwarfed by many EVs. For drivers longing for the sound of a combustion engine, Alpine offers two ‘Drive Sound’ tones. However, if like many you’re not a fan of peculiar synthetic sounds, they can be turned off.

The A290 comes with a 52kWh battery as standard, giving a range of up to 236 miles. A heat pump will also come in handy, preserving the range during winter months. The fast charging system allows the state of charge to rise from 15% to 80% in as little as 30 minutes, or up to 93 miles in 15 minutes. Vehicle-to-load and vehicle-to-grid functions are also included. Finally, in-built  Google Maps has an electric route planner, which considers the route, energy usage and preconditions the battery to ensure journeys are as efficient and stress-free as possible.

Alpine A290

Take Your Pick

There’s plenty of choice in the new Alpine A290 range. They feature tailor-made Michelin tyres, which vary depending on the performance. The base GT has a good level of standard equipment, but the GT Premium provides a more luxurious experience. It has a black roof and tinted rear windows, with a full Nappa leather interior, the Devialet premium audio system and a heated steering wheel. The GT Performance gets the uprated 220bhp setup, red brake calipers, and Alpine Telemetrics. The top-spec GTS takes GT features and adds exclusive options, like the Snowflake wheels.

Want something more exclusive? The GTS Premiere Edition will be offered, alongside three exclusive versions: Beta, inspired by the concept car, La Grise, and La Bleue. Only 1,955 will be made and they all feature an exclusive livery, additional equipment and a plaque on the centre console denoting the limited production.

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