Alfa Romeo has fired up the PR machine early ahead of the launch of one of the most anticipated new cars of 2013, by releasing this teaser image of the mid-engined 4C sports car.

The finished 4C production car won't be unveiled until the Geneva motor show in March, but Turin will be hoping to steal some limelight away from many of the big Detroit unveilings next month by turning the spotlight on its 2013 debutant early.

The teaser image only shows the car's five-spoke alloy wheel design, but promises that the car it's attached to will be 'the car to end all cars' - a claim that will go down extremely well with Alfa's hardcore following, who will welcome the 4C with open arms as the first rear-drive model for two decades.

The 4C will be powered by a new aluminium version of Alfa’s 1742cc turbocharged petrol engine, producing around 300bhp. A claimed kerb weight of less than 1000kg will give the mid-engined 4C one of the best power-to-weight ratios in its class — one of the key targets of the project.

The 4C sends power to the rear wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which sources have confirmed will be the only transmission on offer in the new sports car.

Styling and proportions are also expected to keep faith with the acclaimed 2011 concept. Although it is intended to be a global car, the 4C will be built only in Italy. Production will not be capped at a certain number; rather, it will be “built to demand”, sources claim. It is a “hardcore Alfa designed to appeal to the true Alfistas”, our sources added.

Doubts had been cast over the 4C’s launch date because Alfa’s own relaunch in America has been pushed back. There is also continued uncertainty about the Fiat Group’s model plans ahead of an announcement on 30 October.

The 4C, however, is very much at the forefront of Alfa’s model plans, and will be the headline car at the brand’s US relaunch in 2013-2014. An open-top version of the 4C will follow in 2014-2015, sources have confirmed.