End of an era as Renault Sport closes its doors
Renault Sport is officially no more, as Alpine takes over as the sporting brand of the Groupe Renault. Websites and social media channels for the storied Renault Sport brand closed on 31 December and now direct enthusiasts to Alpine accounts.
‘It’s been a wild ride!’ said the brand in its final posts on Twitter and Instagram. ‘From everyone at the Renault Sport team, thank you for following along with us on this adventure.’
The switch to ‘Alpine’ was announced in May 2021 as part of the Renaulution strategy. The change had already been made on the racetrack, after the Renault Sport F1 team became Alpine F1 for 2021. Renault’s move is similar to Seat’s decision to transform Cupra into a higher-end standalone brand for sporting cars.
Racetrack to the road
The name was originally created for the racetrack, with the famous turbocharged Renault F1 cars first racing in 1977. The first branded road car didn’t arrive until 1995, with the launch of the Renault Sport Spider.
The Renault Sport Clio 172 (pictured above) was launched in 1998 and the division prospered throughout the 2000s and 2010s with a series of highly-acclaimed hot hatchbacks.
However, the rebirth of Alpine marked the beginning of the end. There isn’t even a sporty version of the latest Clio and the current Megane R.S. is on borrowed time as Renault prepares to launch an all-new, all-electric Megane in 2022. The firm’s longer term plan is to move away from higher-volume hatches and focus on more exclusive and profitable vehicles.
Notably, it describes the new Alpines as ‘sportscars’, but does say it will use the ‘scale and capabilities’ of Renault’s CMF-B (latest Clio) and CMF-EV (new Megane Electric) platforms.
“The new Alpine entity takes three brands with separate assets and areas of excellence to turn them into an empowered, fully-fledged business,” said MD Laurent Rossi earlier this year. “We’ll be on the track and on the roads, authentic and high-tech, disruptive and passionate.”
Renault aims for Alpine to become profitable by 2025 – and this will include its F1 activities. We can expect to hear more from Alpine in the coming months. For now, though, it’s officially adieu, Renault Sport.
Richard Aucock writes for Motoring Research