I think it’s safe to say that Toyota and Subaru have started a trend.
By teaming up and bringing back the inexpensive, RWD sports car, the companies may have double-handedly revived a market for fun performance. Now, it’s confirmed that Mazda and Fiat have inked a “Memorandum of Understanding” to develop a roadster based on the MX-5 platform that is expected to see production in Mazda’s Hiroshima factory, with an Alfa Romeo version coming in 2015.
When the new Mazda and its Alfa cousin do come, each brand will get differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific lightweight roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. Mazda’s will be the new MX-5 Miata, and Alfa’s will be the heir to the legendary Spider. Unlike the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S twins, each automaker will use an engine specific to its brand, though it seems Mazda will provide both engines. Imagine, the elegant design of an Alfa combined with the reliability and sportiness of Mazda.
This is very good news.
Bloomberg quotes Sergio Marchionne as saying,
This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand. By partnering with Mazda, we will be cooperating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition.
Mazda has teased that its next MX-5 Miata would hit a 2,200-pound weight target and feature 50/50 weight distribution. While there’s no indication that has changed, the tie-up with Alfa could produce something entirely different. I hope not, because a lightweight modern Alfa Spider would go a long ways toward securing the brand’s future here in the States.
A Mazda/Fiat partnership seems like a win/win situation. Do you see any downsides?