Minimalist Is Mantra for Renault and Caterham's Sports Car


  • Renault Sports Spider Front 3/4

    Renault Sports Spider Front 3/4

    The Renault Sports Spider is an example of the no-frills offerings that the French automaker has experimented with in the past. | November 08, 2012

2 Photos

Just the Facts:
  • Renault and Caterham Car's new jointly developed lightweight sports car continues to take shape behind closed doors, with marketing plans said to be patterned after the launch of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.
  • The new car is to be a minimalist midengine two-seater somewhat in the mold of the original Lotus Elise.
  • Caterham has ambitious plans to broaden its portfolio further, possibly following Porsche into SUVs — and perhaps offering its own version of the Nissan Juke.

LONDON — Renault and Caterham Car's new jointly developed lightweight sports car continues to take shape behind closed doors with marketing plans said to be patterned after the launch of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.

When Renault and Caterham Cars announced exciting new plans a few days back to design and develop a new range of sports cars together, it all came as music to many enthusiasts' ears.

Now under development behind firmly closed doors is a simple, lightweight, midengine two-seater sports car that's set to be the first visible example of this new Franco-British sports car partnership.

Imagine a compact, pure-bred, track-based car in the spirit of the original Lotus Elise, a well-placed source told Edmunds. Renault, at the same time, has also been a player in this field, offering the no-frills and shapely Renault Sports Spider in Europe for a spell in the late '90s.

The new Renault/Caterham car, which is being developed in Norfolk under a team led by ex-Lotus engineer Tony Shute, who developed the brilliant chassis for the Lotus Evora, will come to market rather like the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. That's to say, one basic model but minor styling and spec differences to separate the two.

Renault will market its version under the Alpine badge. Caterham will use its own logo. Both cars will be built at the Alpine factory in Dieppe in Northern France.

No word yet on engines, but Renault Sport has a lot of experience with quick 1.6-liter engines in various Clio models in Europe. Caterham has access to a range of Ford units and its own spectacular supercharged 2.0-liter engine packing 275 horsepower.

The new sports car, which may be revealed in 2014, is just the beginning. The two parties — Renault and Caterham — have said they will combine their skills to build models in large and small series, and the objective for each company is to launch its own sports vehicle within the next 3-4 years.

Caterham for its part also wants to broaden its portfolio further — into SUVs, thus following the lead of Porsche, which controversially (but successfully) developed the Cayenne as a separate entity from its famed sports car business. One rumored program is for Caterham to offer its own version of the Nissan Juke, albeit mainly for ASEAN markets.

Edmunds says: This new Renault-Caterham partnership looks credible and the results should be spectacular, but will the U.S. get a place at the party?

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