The first early test mule for the new Alpine sports car has hit the Nürburging.

The new rear-drive two-seater coupé, which is due on sale in 2016 alongside its co-developed Caterham sibling, is set to be a bespoke design from the ground-up, despite this early mule being based around a Lotus body.

The team testing the mule at the Nürburgring was high-performance suspensions specialist Ohlins, known for its work on Renaultsport models. Although Renault wouldn’t officially confirm this mule is indeed one for the Alpine, insider sources have confirmed that this is the case.

Underpinning the Alpine is set to be a steel spaceframe chassis that also features weight-saving aluminium and composite components. The suspension is all-independent, and the engine is tipped to be a turbocharged 2.0-litre unit with around 280bhp, although a tuned version of the Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo’s 1.6-litre engine is also under consideration.

Caterham's car will use the same chassis and running gear as the Alpine but is understood to be powered by a Toyota engine. Total weight of each car is tipped to be around 1000kg. Both cars are being dynamically benchmarked against the Porsche Cayman, although their dynamic make-up will also pit them against the Alfa Romeo 4C. 

The styling of the new Alpine is close to being signed off. The shape will combine cues from the much-loved Alpine A110 with proportions and elements that emphasise its modernity. The name of the car has not yet been decided. 

Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker has said the Caterham version will get a completely different look, the co-developed sports cars not being “a Toyota-Subaru with almost identical cars like the GT86 and BRZ coupés.

“That wouldn’t work for them or for us,” he told Autocar last month. “The two cars need to be clearly different. It needs to be not just a sports car, but also a car for aesthetes.”