Alfa giveth and Alfa taketh away. With apologies to Job (he has gone through a lot, after all), that's how things are looking at the Italian automaker – whether it's the promise of new products or its impending return to the North American market. But it's especially true when it comes to new roadsters.

While Alfa Romeo is expected to unveil the 4C Spider at the Geneva Motor Show this week, reports are now suggesting that its other roadster project is being called into question. That project is a joint venture between Fiat and Mazda, which was set to produce a version of its next MX-5 Miata as an Alfa Romeo, and was even changing the design to accommodate Alfa's requirements.

Now it appears, however, that the whole project in doubt. The problem seems to stem from Sergio Marchionne's pronouncements that, as long as he's in charge, there won't be an Alfa Romeo built outside of Italy.

The principal poses some problems, but also leaves some windows open. For one, it could mean that the Alfa project would be postponed until after Marchionne retires, but that's not expected to happen any time soon. For another, it could mean that the Alfa roadster would be developed by Mazda and based on its architecture, but assembled back in Italy – although the deal is said to call for Mazda to do the manufacturing. The prospect that our colleagues at at Automotive News Europe are betting on, however, is that Marchionne will switch its commitment to Mazda to another brand.

Eliminating Ferrari, Maserati and Lancia as possibilities, ANE figures the project could be transferred to either Fiat or the Abarth performance brand. Bertone's Fiat Barchetta concept looked promising in 2007, and Abarth was long rumored to get its own roadster – and both manufacture outside of Italy as it is. But for that matter, we wonder why – with Fiat and Chrysler now under the same umbrella – it couldn't be done instead as a Dodge or SRT. The Copperhead concept of 1997 and the Demon of 2008 did show some promise, after all. What do you think?



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  • 59 Comments
      ChaosphereIX
      • 9 Months Ago
      dont screw this up Sergio. This car has the makings of greatness. You know , that greatness you and everyone else want Alfa to return to???!!! Lately, Alfa is the very definition of frustration and squandered opportunities. I am a die hard Alfa fan, this is killing me geez.
      rmt_1
      • 9 Months Ago
      The simplest solution to this problem is for Marchionne to say that he misspoke about non-Italian production of Alfa Romeos. In order to bring back Alfa Romeo to the US, they need far more volume then the 4C could ever provide and a Mazda-produced Alfa Romeo Spider, positioned above the MX-5's price point, could give them enough total sales to get a foothold in the country. Otherwise, I don't see any reason for Mazda to want to continue with the deal, because building a car that could compete directly against their own MX-5 is not in their best interests, especially if it could reduce dealership traffic for their other cars. Therefore, a Fiat/Abarth Barchetta would be a non-starter since they were originally marketed directly as a MX-5 competitor and a Dodge/SRT would probably require costly and time consuming modifications to the engine compartment to allow fitting the larger engines that would be expected from their brand. As for the idea of building the Mazda-based platform in Italy, that's also a non-starter for Mazda, because building the Spider on the same assembly line as the MX-5 in Japan was supposed to reduce overall production costs and creating an expensive second line for a relatively low-volume car could increase overall costs for each car assembled in both Japan and Italy. Therefore, if Marchionne really wants a Mazda-based sports car, then he will have to accept the fact that it will have to be built in Japan. Overall, Marchionne should follow the example of Enzo Ferrari and just speak a lot less and try to be more enigmatic instead of being the automotive industry's "Joe Biden"; a man with severe "foot-in-mouth" disease.
      jz78817
      • 9 Months Ago
      Half Life 3 will be released before Alfa actually returns to North America.
      carnut0913
      • 9 Months Ago
      "it couldn't be done instead as a Dodge or SRT" Instead? INSTEAD? How about ALSO?? Lets have a Dodge Demon AND an Abarth Whip or Abarth Deathstalker (types of scorpions...) Although honestly, I don't think Dodge could sell it for much more than a Miata, so Im not sure how well it would do as a Dodge. And an SRT would compete with the Abarth line- though it might do better in the US.
      mehul_kamdar
      • 9 Months Ago
      It would hardly be new for Alfa to tie up with a Japanese manufacturer - during the pre Fiat years, they had the excellent Alfasud, of which one version was built in association with Nissan, and the Arna which was an Alfa-Nissan joint venture from the start. Mazda is a great company that knows how to build very nice handling cars, as does Alfa. Both need to work together. They would turn something very nice up if they do.
      avinash Machado
      • 9 Months Ago
      Make it an Abarth.
      RedEmblem
      • 9 Months Ago
      You know, the platform could make for a new Lancia Stratos... just a crazy thought
      sinistro79
      • 9 Months Ago
      The key to success is the platform. Right now, Alfa Romeo does not have a suitable chassis to built their next-generation Spider on. The 4C's platform is too expensive and the rest of Alfa's current range are built on front-wheel-drive platforms designed for economy instead of performance. If Alfa really intends on releasing their new Spider in time for the 2015 model year, then they need to get on with designing a suitable platform for it asap. Another fwd Spider would just ensure more dismal reviews and sub-par sales just as it has for the company since they discontinued the 105-Series Spider in 1994. But then again, Alfa under Fiat doesn't usually prioritize performance or punctuality....so I really wouldn't be surprised if Alfa released another fwd Spider (based on their crappy MiTo, for example) in 2017 either. lol
        EtSM
        • 9 Months Ago
        @sinistro79
        I understand most of what you say, and great analysis it is too... but why bash a FWD Alfa just because it's FWD?? Audi sells 1500000 cars a year and no-one gives a toss 90% of them are FWD!! And the new 1 Series from can-do-no-wrong BMW is front wheel drive too ... Why is the Mito crappy?? Is everybody intent on racing around a track these days??? Ok go get a Yaris..! Please look up "Mito GTA" and enjoy ... that would have made the MITO stand out! unfortunately the weakest department in the FIAT empire is MARKETING, That is their only flaw.
      PMR MD
      • 9 Months Ago
      Mazda has fantastic engineers. Their latest offerings may not be top shelf luxury automobiles. But their cars are very impressive in the segments that they compete in in terms of performance, economy and balance at their price point. To not let Mazda help create the next Alfa convertible would be a mistake. They created the best selling convertible. And, at a time Alfa is trying to get a foothold in the US they need a solid product to offer. It's a good bet that Mazda could provide such a product.
      Anonymous
      • 9 Months Ago
      Who wants a reliable Alfa?!?!?! That is the talk of a heretic!
        ChaosphereIX
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Anonymous
        some were actually fairly reliable - the 156 was pretty good, as was the 159. No worse than the Germans for that matter [not saying much I know but still...]
      JayhawkOne
      • 9 Months Ago
      If they can build a Jeep in Italy.... The reliability of a Alfa built in Japan will probably help the brand more than "it's not Italian built" will hurt it.
        imoore
        • 9 Months Ago
        @JayhawkOne
        "If they can build a Jeep in Italy...." My thoughts exactly. Sergio is full of crap.
        Lachmund
        • 9 Months Ago
        @JayhawkOne
        i can definately do without that part of italian soul!
      JaredN
      • 9 Months Ago
      I would much rather have an Alfa built by Mazda in Japan, than an Alfa built by Alfa in Italy -- the Japanese car would have a much better likelihood of being reliable.
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