Renault is looking to Alfa Romeo's forthcoming 4C to help boost prospects for its forthcoming two-seat Alpine coupé, due to hit the market in 2016 at around £50,000.

Renault boss Carlos Tavares says the Dieppe-manufactured Alpine and the Alfa (plus the car being designed on the same chassis by its 50/50 partner Caterham) will together create a new, big-name, sub-supercar class of driver's cars intended to appeal both to well heeled traditionalists and younger driving enthusiasts.

Styling is "about 70 per cent done", Tavares says. The shape will combine cues from the much-loved A110 (four round headlights, arrowhead nose, low roofline, side scoops, wide rear deck) with proportions and elements that emphasise its modernity. Striking the right balance is one of the major challenges, he says.

Tavares is tight-lipped about the mechanical details of the car, but just before the new Alpine endurance race car took to the track for the first time at Silverstone, he told Autocar that it would be a two-seat coupé weighing about 1000kg, costing around £50,000 and with about 280bhp on tap. Volume would be "a few thousand" per year.

The chassis is understood to be a spaceframe mainly of steel, but with weight-saving aluminium and composite components. French reports say the Alpine coupé has all-independent suspension and locates the engine – a four-cylinder  turbo petrol unit likely to be of 2.0-litre capacity – transversely behind the occupants. Engineers are still deciding whether it will use the six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox recently adopted for the Renault Clio Renaultsport, or a conventional stick shift. Caterham's car will use the same chassis and running gear as the Alpine but is understood to be powered by a Toyota engine.

Renault insiders are already discussing the name – notably with its recently appointed advisory board of former Alpine drivers and experts "who created the Alpine story" – but have not yet reached any conclusions about whether to pursue a sequence of letters and numbers (A110, A310, A610) or come up with a name.

"We have time to discuss and decide," says Tavares. "The production car is about three years away, but about a year before that we will probably show a concept. In the meantime, we will find other ways to feed the brand."