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It may look like a Lotus Elise that’s just returned from the worst body shop in town but what you’re actually looking at is an early test mule for a new sports car platform being developed by French automaker Renault and British track car specialist Caterham.

The two companies announced last November that they would launch respective sports cars based on a shared platform, with Renault selling its version under the revived Alpine performance brand and Caterham selling its version as part of an expanded road car program.

The two cars will look considerably different to one another, despite them sharing much of their internals. The Renault version should adopt elements from the automaker's Alpine A110-50 concept car from 2012.

The Caterham is expected to be the more performance oriented of the two, while the Renault will be more comfortable and luxurious. The spy shots show that the cars will be similar in size to the Lotus Elise but with a much wider track.

Caterham is primarily responsible for the development of the chassis and testing while Renault is thought to be supplying the engines and other internal hardware. Renault will also be responsible for production of the two cars, which will take place at the former Alpine plant in Dieppe, France.

The cars will be strict two-seaters and come with four-cylinder power, most likely with some form of forced induction employed (turbocharged 1.6-liter units have been suggested). The engines will be mounted in a mid-engine position and drive sent to the rear wheels only. Peak output should lie close to 270 horsepower, enabling the cars to accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 5.0 seconds.

Key targets, both in terms of performance and pricing, are the Porsche Cayman and Alfa Romeo 4C.

A 2016 reveal has been confirmed, though concepts of both cars are expected before then. Sadly, neither version will be sold in the U.S.

source: motorauthority

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