Caterham is keen to raise the power output of its C120 to nearly 300bhp
Alpine's sports car will help to relaunch the brand
The final designs of the new Caterham and Alpine co-developed sports car have now been agreed and signed off ahead of the launch in 2016.
The new car, referred to by Caterham as the C120, is the result of the joint-venture agreement signed between Caterham and Renault late last year. It is a two-seat sports car that will give both companies a stand-alone model, as well as relaunching the Alpine brand.
But the Caterham will not just be a rebadged Alpine. Both will have different bodies and interiors and will owe very little to each other visually. Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker said the two cars will give "completely different impressions" that will showcase "the best of the two companies".
Engine tuning, handling characteristics and steering traits will also be different, with Caterham developing its own settings. And although both cars will have the same power and torque outputs, Caterham intends to launch new versions with different outputs after the first model.
That power output is likely to be about 250bhp, although Caterham sources indicate that the firm is keen to raise that figure to 300bhp. The engine, a Renault-supplied unit, will be new and is not yet in production. With a target kerb weight of 1100kg, thanks to an aluminium body, the car is likely to benefit from a power-to-weight ratio of about 270bhp per tonne.
With a target of 3000 cars a year, Caterham will be increasing sales by more than 500 per cent, so the firm is currently looking at expanding its dealer network to accommodate the new car. Both the Alpine and Caterham will be built at Renault’s Dieppe factory, which is now 50/50 owned by Caterham and Renault.
With Renault now working on the Alpine, van den Acker said he’d shelved his ambitions to launch an additional Renault sports car closely linked to his DeZir concept of 2010. "Since Alpine became serious, we can’t do both," he said. "Even I’d admit that’s not necessary. I gladly defer DeZir in order to do an Alpine."