The next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata will have a sibling, but it won't be a Mazda, it will be an Alfa Romeo. The Japanese automaker has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alfa parent Fiat to co-develop a roadster based on the MX-5 platform that is expected to see production in Mazda's Hiroshima factory, with the Alfa version coming in 2015.

Pegged as "a successor to the MX-5," the production date will push the next-gen Miata's arrival back a bit. In 2010 it was predicted we'd see the new Miata this year, with its 2,200-pound weight target, 50/50 weight distribution and potential twin-backbone chassis structure. Obviously that isn't happening.

Whenever the new model and its Alfa mate do come, each brand will get "differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive," using in-house engines provided by their own brands.

The link-up is excellent news for Mazda, the small, independent company searching for just these kinds of "technology and product development alliances" to help rescue it from years of losses, and supporting CEO Takashi Yamanouchi's assertion that it's "partner or die." The negotiations also include further cooperation between the two brands in Europe.

Fiat head Sergio Marchionne's search for partnerships to provide scale is no secret, nor his desire to improve Fiat's position in Asia, which Mazda might also be able to assist with. And the idea of a properly sporting Alfa would be welcome round the world; with the loss of the Brera GT and Brera Spider in 2010, the Alfa line is down to two hatchbacks and a long-in-the-tooth sedan, none of them particularly sporty. With the 8C Spider beyond most budgets and the 4C still living in the ether, it's been almost 20 years since the then 33-year-old Alfa Spider represented (or was meant to, at least) the kind of purposeful, two-seater Alfa being announced here.

The final agreement should be finalized later this year, and you can scroll down to read the press release.
Show full PR text
Mazda Press Release: Mazda and Fiat announce co-operation program

(23-05-2012) -- Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) and Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. (Fiat) 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 Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight, roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. The Mazda and Alfa Romeo 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.

"Establishing technology and product development alliances is one of Mazda's corporate objectives and this announcement with Fiat is an important first step in that direction. It is especially exciting to be collaborating with such a prestigious marque as Alfa Romeo on a new roadster based on the next-generation MX-5, which is such an iconic vehicle for Mazda and recognised as the best-selling roadster of all time." said Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda's Representative Director and Chairman of the Board, President and CEO.

"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 co-operating with the recognised leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition. We are appreciative of this collaboration with Mazda and look forward to maintaining a fruitful and continuous relationship." said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

The Final Agreement is expected to be signed in the second-half of 2012.

Mazda and Fiat have also agreed to discuss further opportunities for co-operation in Europe.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 109 Comments
      ACSRHS
      • 2 Years Ago
      Best news I've heard all week. It definitely benefits both brands; Mazda needs support and Alfa could use a RWD roadster in their lineup.
      pngrant54
      • 2 Years Ago
      This sounds very promising. It is important that Alfa have it's unique "Italian" styling and it's own engine. Most likely the multiair 4 from the Fiat Abarth i'm guessing. It sounds great in the Abarth compared to most of it's competition. Further you have a convertable to even here it more clearly. I would suspect that while the underpinnings might be the same as the Miata the Alfa may come in slightly larger(longer) and heavier. It should have a different feal about it than the Miata. I can't wait!
        quuppa70
        • 2 Years Ago
        @pngrant54
        they could use this engine aswell: http://www.fiatspa.com/en-US/media_center/FiatDocuments/2011/October/New_Alfa_Romeo_engine_to_be_produced_in_Italia.pdf
      Zortella
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would have thought that a Fiat Group version of the Mazda Miata (mx-5) would have been an updated Fiat 124 Spyder rather than an Alfa Romeo.
        lasertekk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zortella
        Same here. While the Alfa twincam from the period was a work of visual art, the Fiat twincam from the 1960's was designed by ex-Ferrari engineer Lampredi. More capable and modern in my opinion.
          quuppa70
          • 2 Years Ago
          @lasertekk
          not in my opinion,, Alfa engine was superior of that in any aspects
        quuppa70
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zortella
        why? and its still Spider
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zortella
        I would love to see both. I always admired the Italian styling of the 124 Spider, and would not mind seeing a modern, as close to literal as possible, interpretation of that model but with the reliability and build quality one can expect today. In my opinion, it would be combining the best of both worlds, in my opinion.
      Nick Allain
      • 2 Years Ago
      Makes sense, Fiat builds good engines with platforms that are always a little to heavy to be great. Mazda brings pretty great platform engineering. What would be funny is if somehow this thing ended up a Chrysler.
      finzenchrome
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had somewhat predicted this when I said then that Maserati should form a partnership with Mazda. Well Maserati is part of the Fiat Group, and Alfa Romeo recently put out a gorgeous concept convertible called 2uettottanta. I think that although the design languages of Mazda's Kodo, Alfa's 2uettottanta, Maserati and the Dodge Demon are very distinct, I think they would nonetheless complement more than compete with each other when built on a common platform. Imagine getting to choose which Miata you want in four different flavors!
        turbomonkey2k
        • 2 Years Ago
        @finzenchrome
        Back in 2010 Mazda's then new design chief, Ikuo Maeda, kind of predicted this more than he knew when he said that he was aiming for a more “Japanese Alfa Romeo” look. Now it's all but official that Mazda will be building an actual Japanese Alfa Romeo.
      Steve
      • 2 Years Ago
      No surprise that the picture shows a girl driving a Miata. It is a "cute" little car for a girl or girly guy.......
        artso06
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steve
        Try viewing like this... Scalpels vs Hammers...one promotes the development of motor skills the other...cave man instincts. Take a guess which on the Miata is?
        methos1999
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steve
        Or anybody who wants to get serious about track days. Name another car with the same low weight, low cost, with excellent driving dynamics and RWD that would work as well for track use and I'll upvote you.
          Compliance
          • 2 Years Ago
          @methos1999
          The next Miata will weigh much less than a BRZ
          methos1999
          • 2 Years Ago
          @methos1999
          SVX pearlie, Yup you're right, but it didn't come from Steve, so I'm not going to upvote him!
        GasMan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steve
        I love it when I run rings around the Porsches and Camaros at the track in my girlie Miata. They always ask if I put a turbo in it. I say no, just a driver.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GasMan
          [blocked]
          quuppa70
          • 2 Years Ago
          @GasMan
          BRZ is very slow car for 197 hps, wonder where it loses its ponies
        moredanyou
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steve
        Too much money for you? Or can you afford more Macho-Manly Camaros? You're a big guy.
        BranMM
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Steve
        Just guessing here, Steve. You drive pick up truck, don't you? Real men wear pink. Get over yourself.
      Andrew Zotos Breslin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Italian design, Japanese reliability. And welcome back, Spyder!!!
      Myself
      • 2 Years Ago
      It conclusively prooves that Mazdas are much better machines for any enthusistic driver than Alfas.
        David J. Bernstein
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        @ Myself If you ran Alfa Romeo, what would you do? Spend millions developing a RWD platform? Or ally yourself with a company already in possession of a proven RWD platform? Kids these days are so dumb...
        quuppa70
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        no they are not, Alfa has not this category car at all. But all sedans/hatchbacks are better as Alfas.
        Myself
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Here we go again, fanboism wins over common sense, statistics and reality. I've driven Alfas but couldn't care less to actually own one. Built quality is abysmal, reliability non-existent (google ANY European reliability study such as TUV and try to find anything Fiat related in the top half) and I'm sorry but only a totally uncritical fan can say those cars handle better than Mazdas. Again and again, Alfa is a brand owned by Fiat, nothing else, these days and the only think it has is colorful history that was, again, never an example of reliability. Same applies for Lancia. Put it this way... Spitfire was a great aircraft and has an immense history. But we all fly in Boeings and Airbuses these days and military uses F15 or Migs or Suchojs.
          David J. Bernstein
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Myself
          "Put it this way... Spitfire was a great aircraft and has an immense history. But we all fly in Boeings and Airbuses these days and military uses F15 or Migs or Suchojs." This is the dumbest analogy I've ever heard. The Spitfire isn't used today because it quickly became outdated in the late 1940s and early 1950s because of the jet age. That's all. It's still a great aircraft. Period. And Alfa Romeos are great cars. I'd rather drive a stylish Alfa Romeo than some boring appliance from Toyota or even Mazda. Let's face it, aside from the Miata, RX-8 and perhaps the MPS versions of the 3 and 6, there isn't anything exciting over at Mazda. And the Miata, RX-8 and 3 and 6 are pretty boring in terms of styling.
          quuppa70
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Myself
          you have clearly not driven any, otherwise you wont would say that Mazda6 is better drive than 159, which was best handler of its class, or Giulietta is worse than Mazda3 . And you dont know anything about differencies between Alfa vs Fiat clearly. I would keep my mouth closed if I would be you. Go and read German JD power surveys for example 5 years back, or some German GTU statistics so you can learn someting about Fiat guality. Wake up for reality.
      lasertekk
      • 2 Years Ago
      If this is what it takes to get a proper light weight RWD Italian roadster back into production, then I'll take it.
      Geoffrey Swenson
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mazda is my favorite little car company. They really do have great engineers. Ever since Ford divested themselves of their controlling interest just before the economic crash, I've wondered how they would survive, because little Mazda doesn't have the huge volumes necessary to keep their designs ahead of the competition. Fiat / Chrysler could be a good matchup, so I'm interested to see where this goes.
        J D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Geoffrey Swenson
        I owned a 2003 Mazda Protege 5 and it would die for no reason. Mazda had my car for over a month trying to fix it. While they were using my car as a test mule for fixes, they loaned me a Lincoln Towncar, which was hard to give up when the time came. This problem was common among that engine and they never could figure out why it happened. They also never issued a recall, despite the danger of having your car just die for no apparent reason. I think their engineers were pretty pathetic, to be honest, since they couldn't figure anything out. I finally had the car returned under the Lemon Law and got a Nissan instead (and that's been pretty much problem-free).
          Geoffrey Swenson
          • 2 Years Ago
          @J D
          I'm not sure what happened to your car, but Mazda usually has extraordinary reliablity. My own mazda 3 had never had anything break yet and I have 60K+ miles on it. I have replaced the serpentine belt when it started to squeak, but that's it.
      Herbie
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mazda has balls. A 2200 pound sportster marketed to enthusiasts. This company does it their way, and does it well. Good for Mazda and Alfa. In Europe Alfa is still a force to be reckoned with, I hope they do well with this relationship. Off on a tangent, when Subaru ramps up the next WRX/STI I hope that Mazda does the same with the MSP 3.
      chromal
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope it benefits Mazda, but Fiat isn't the first automaker that comes to mind when I think of good cars. From what I understand, there's a good reason they weren't sold in the US for two decades-- they were crap.
        lasertekk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @chromal
        Not sold in the crowded US market, BUT sold everywhere else on this planet.
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @chromal
        Fiats definitely had their problems. I will give you that, but in their defense, a lot of cars coming out of Europe and the US were crap in the 70s and 80s, especially when compared to what the Japanese were building at the time. That said, I don't think it's fair to judge the Fiat of today in the same light. In this competitive, global market, you don't last another 30 years by building unreliable rust-buckets. The bar is set a lot higher in that regard than it was in 1985 when the last Fiat 124 Spider came to the US.
        J D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @chromal
        Were and still are.
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