Until recently, it was the most powerful Alpine of all, but also… the last! With the Alpine A610, Renault, because it is the diamond in full control, wanted to erase the mistakes of its predecessor, aiming for height, but it missed many things…
Change and do better
The Alpine GTA series, whether atmo or Turbo, surfed the design and visuals of the A310, although we have changed a lot. But success is not really there.
The goal is clearly announced: leave the radical sport and move towards a real transition to the upmarket. You just have to get a Porsche! In fact, if the performance is there, the finishes are not commensurate with the price the cars show. Not many 6494 copies in 5 years. And when replacing it, it is necessary to do better with the A610.
On the technical side, the Alpine A610 bets everything on balance and weight distribution. Alpine GTAs were chosen for their floating front end at high speeds and relatively low stiffness. So we strengthen the chassis, staying true to the principle of the central beam, using more stamped sheets that replace the welded tubes in the front and the composite floor. Door reinforcements were also added. Result: the weight increased by 200 kg to reach 1420 kg! On the other hand, the mass distribution is greatly improved, from 38/62 to 43/57.
On the engine side, there are no miracles. As banned, the V6 PRV remains the only French V6 of the time, the only one that could power a car aimed at Porsches. Once we used the 3 liter version, 2975 cm³ to be precise. This Z7X is something new for the Renault group, only the 605 and XM have already sent it to PSA. On the other hand, at Renault, we don’t leave it to the atmosphere. Fueled by a Turbo Garett T3 blowing at 0.766 bar, it produces 250hp at 5750 rpm. The torque reaches 350 Nm at 2900 rpm.
Great values! With this the Alpine A610 is advertised for 265 km/h (limited) and takes 6.1s to reach 100 km/h. Alain Serpaggi was called upon to build a new engine.
A physical deja vu
BEREX, Renault’s learning center bet everything on the method? In any case, when studying the car line, the credits run out. Therefore, it is necessary to use GTA glass surfaces on the Alpine A610. Even with all the bodywork elements, this simple re-use will do the car a lot. Its resemblance is deceptive, it could easily be taken for a restyling rather than for a new car.
The style will be more… bourgeois, more intelligent. If this is not true, compared to the first GTA, the Alpine A610 is necessarily less luxurious than the ultimate GT Turbo Le Mans. The main difference is from the headlights. It takes the dead idea of pop-ups to equip GTAs sold in the USA. The back is almost identical. Also had 16″ rims but still used the “Turbine” design of the Alpine and Renault Turbo of the time.
Inside: we attack!
FINISH. Finally, all the improvements made in the previous points are less important than this one. In positioning the Alpine A610 we put ourselves in a segment where all cars are great, where design remains a matter of taste but where we like what we pay for. And that goes through a well-equipped and well-finished interior.
There is not enough budget to overhaul everything. So we are satisfied with the changes in terms of shape and ergonomics of the dashboard. Above all, we leave low-end plastics. The floor is lined with thick carpet, the velvet seats are of high quality and can be replaced with leather. The car radio is controlled from the steering wheel and you can have one with a CD, the height of modernity, as an option.
The Alpine A610 remains a relatively theoretical 4-seater due to the roominess in the rear. Especially since we need space for luggage, the front trunk is gone.
There are many changes and many hopes. The car was ready at the beginning of 1991.
Alpine A610 praised!
A short week after the end of the Gulf War, car enthusiasts had an appointment at the Geneva Motor Show from March 7 to 17, 1991. The place was perfect to display such a car. To say that the Alpine A610 raises an air of enthusiasm would be an understatement.
However, the press received the car and gave a very good impression. The engine, and especially the torque, impressed. Some even wrote that the car has nothing to envy to Porsche and Ferrari. The presentation ? If no one was happy, however, he avoided criticism. The Alpine A610 has been launched and Renault is eagerly awaiting the results!
Renault was quickly disappointed
From the end of 1991, we had to decide: things got off to a very bad start! In 6 months we sold about sixty cars before growing a little. Alpine is now paying for its absorption by Renault.
Since victory at the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1978, Alpine has been absent from motorsport. Renault played a big role, making its engines shine in F1. Therefore, Alpine is a brand whose fiber of competition, and therefore fiber of sports quite simply, belongs to the past. The cruel lack of image is a real obstacle. When you sell a car for 400,000 francs, you attack Porsche, always at the forefront of durability, and Ferrari, which will always remain Ferrari regardless of the intrinsic quality of the cars on offer!
To improve this image, Renault wants to use the Olympic Games in Albertville, where the diamond is a partner. So we suggest the Alpine A610 “Olympic 92”. No sporting evolution, but a specific presentation. Cars in the series are painted glacier white, the interior uses light-colored leather. The equipment is rich and two cars are used in the games and are therefore clearly visible. These two cars… will be the only ones in the series! Sold as opportunities after the games, they will not go with any car ordered by any customer!
We reacted quickly. So, a new limited series was relaunched on June 3, 1992. A month before the Grand Prix de France, the Alpine A610 “Magny-Cours” was unveiled. The car is clearly exposed on the circuit. This time it’s dark green, from the bodywork to the rims. We add black upholstery and a numbered plate. 30 copies are in the program. Not enough to get people out. The Alpine A610 doesn’t really capitalize on Renault’s F1 image. If Mansell and Patrese secure the double in F1 at the start of July, it will be a Renault engine, in a Williams, that wins. No Alpine in the equation!
At the beginning of July, this is also the change of vintage. The “classic” Alpine A610 will evolve with a perforated door sill. We offer, as an option, the leather found in Magny-Cours. However, it will have to wait until the end of the year to fit it with new Michelin tires.
1993 will be an important year. Sales plummeted in 1992 and the engine had to be restarted to avert an industry disaster that seemed inevitable. From the beginning of the year, new 5-spoke rims with a more airy design were launched. The engine goes to 2963 cm³, a displacement reduction intended for homologation in certain markets that does not change performance. Nothing helps, sales don’t take off and they even fall.
BEREX then buried the project of a convertible, in reality quite advanced, and worked on a more powerful version. It will be an Alpine A610 evolution whose power will increase to 280hp, torque to 420 Nm and which will differ in its bodywork: extended wings (as in GTA Le Mans) and spoiler. Great prospect but development stalled. The Alpine A610 is no longer for sale: 36 units produced in 1993!
We tried one last “coup” in 1994 with the proposal of a service that allowed to create a completely customized car. It is a “shooting”… of a sword into the water because there is no resulting order from it.
That year, an Alpine A610 appeared in competition. Legeay Sports Mecanique enters a car in GT2. Qualifying 34th, the car was driven by Jean-Claude Police, Benjamin Roy and Luc Galmard. If it wasn’t the best, it was in 13th place in the race, taking 5th place in the category. On the other hand, the same car entered the following year will fail to qualify.
However, we know very well that the Alpine A610 is dead, the brand that accompanies it, because we are preparing the launch of a car that could be an Alpine when we look at its definition: the Spider.
The last Alpine A610, red, left Dieppe in April 1995. 818 copies will be made, a real snub!
The Alpine A610 in the collection
Apart from the first Alpine, the A106, produced in 251 copies, the Alpine A610 is the rarest car in Dieppe… In fact, it does not run on the streets and announcements are very rare. It is better to go through a club and have access to the owners, than to wait for one of them to come on the market. With this amount, it is difficult to give a reliable rating. The range is between 30 and 50,000 €, the limited series being the most sought after.
In any case, if you take the plunge, you will be holding a piece of history, the last Alpine of the first generation.
Additional images: Wheelsage and Artcurial