I haven’t been this excited about a coming motor vehicle for some time, but yesterday’s press release stating that Mazda and Fiat would be combining their resources to produce both the next generation MX-5 and a new Alfa Romeo Spider is music to my ears.
Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. (Fiat) and Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development and manufacturing of a new roadster for the Mazda and Alfa Romeo marques based on Mazda’s next-generation MX-5 rear-wheel-drive architecture.
The study calls for both Fiat and Mazda to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight, roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. The Alfa Romeo and Mazda variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.
The project assumption is that both vehicles will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant with production for Alfa Romeo envisaged starting in 2015.
I’ve never owned an Alfa Romeo Spider but I have owned several Alfa Romeos in the past and currently own a 1985 Alfa Romeo GTV6. Alfa is one of those marques that most people have at least a small affection for. It’s said that even
Enzo Ferrari Henry Ford used to tip his hat when an Alfa went by, such was his respect for his fellow Italian racing competitors. Like many storied brands, however, Alfa’s impeccable racing pedigree is mostly a distant memory. Whilst recent models have maintained Alfa’s penchant for beautiful styling, they haven’t always delivered in terms of driving experience.
I’ve also owned a Mazda MX-5 in the past, albeit for a short time only. My MX-5 ownership suffered from the fact that I sold a beautiful Alfa 33 16V in order to buy it and I missed the Alfa too much to really enjoy the MX-5. It was quite a fun car and well suited to the old automotive cliché about go-kart handling. The early models were somewhat underpowered, however, and whilst more recent models have more poke on paper, they’ve also gained a considerable amount of weight. I’ve read elsewhere that Mazda are hoping to bring the next generation MX-5 back under 1,000kg and I think that’s a fantastic move.
The prospect of taking Mazda’s proven MX-5 handling and build quality and adding some Alfa styling and powertrain pizazz to it is enough to put some steam in a man’s strides. It’s a partnership well worth exploring and I can’t wait to see what the two companies come up with.
I’ve been quite concerned about Alfa Romeo’s future over the last few years. Fiat closed the Alfa museum in Italy a year or so ago and it’s never reopened. Whilst they’ve announced firm production plans for the boutique 4C model recently, the current Alfa range is limited to just the MiTo and the Giulietta. They desperately need a larger car in the near future and whilst this new Alfa Romeo Spider doesn’t fill that need, it does provide some reassurance that Fiat are serious about building the Alfa Romeo brand.
Time for a Snoopy dance!