… and rear wheel drive!
Mazda have Fiat Group (the owners of the Alfa Romeo brand) have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding that the platform of the next generation Mazda MX-5 Miata will be used for the development and manufacture of roadsters by both Mazda and Alfa Romeo brands. Mazda and Fiat have also agreed to discuss further opportunities for co-operation in Europe.
The alliance is good news for sports car fans. The aim is for the cars to be distinct and differ in styling and be powered by engines unique to each brand. So the outcome should be a choice of two cars each offering something a little different on the tried and tested two-seater rear-wheel-drive roadster theme.
Mazda should benefit from association with the iconic Alfa brand while perhaps the biggest winner in this collaboration is the Italian company. Alfa have struggled to justify developing a rear-wheel-drive sports car platform in recent years leaving their cars uncompetitive in the face of the latest German roadsters. Mazda on the other hand, have in the MX-5 Miata produced the best-selling roadster of all time. Their experience and recipe for a simple, lightweight and inexpensive sports car will be something much envied by Fiat Group. The thought of a well-made, great handling sports car with an Alfa Romeo engine, badge and stunning Italian styling is an exciting prospect. The Alfa Romeo brand was built on just such sports cars but the current range is lacking anything even close to this.
An Alfa based on the new MX-5 platform (which is already under development) would aim to reach the market in 2015. Rumours suggest that the next generation Mazda roadster will lose weight bringing it back within range of the first 1989 car. Power sources under consideration have included small displacement, forced induction engines.