The new mid-engined Caterham coupé being co-developed with the new Alpine will use a Renault-sourced four-cylinder, forced-induction engine with as much as 270bhp and have sub-5.0sec 0-60mph performance.
The British firm has also set an ambitious target of selling 25,000 examples of the £40,000 coupé over its eight-year life cycle, according to Caterham commercial director David Ridley.
As a result, the low, light and modern coupé is being benchmarked against the blend of dynamic and everyday usability offered by the Porsche Cayman.
“We know we can’t just make a car for hardcore enthusiasts and we wouldn’t want to,” said Ridley. “Our new car will be aimed at a far wider audience yet dynamically will still be unmistakably a Caterham.”
The Renault-sourced engine will be heavily modified to provide appropriate power and throttle response. “The world is turning back towards downsized engines,” said Ridley, “and as we have found with the R600 track car, supercharging means you can have all the power and torque you need without sacrificing throttle response.”
Two transmissions will be offered: a six-speed manual and a paddle-shift automatic that is described as “essential” to its sales plans.
Ridley believes the Caterham can succeed where the Lotus Evora has failed. “The Evora is too expensive and makes life too hard for owners,” he said, adding that Caterham’s access to Renault’s parts bin would result in a fully integrated and complete car.
Ridley also insisted that the Caterham — expected to be launched in 2015 — would not simply be a rebadged Alpine. “The cars look utterly different,” he said, adding that there were 70 engineers in Norfolk who were “fully involved in the development of both the parts the cars will share and those that will make our car unique”.