19.01.2013 MAZDA MX-5 ROADSTER SPIN-OFF FOR ALFA ROMEO GETS THE GREEN LIGHT

MAZDA MX-5 2013

Seven months after Alfa Romeo revealed that it was in talks with Mazda to explore basing a new convertible on the next-generation MX-5 (above, the Mazda MX-5 Model Year 2013), the two carmakers have announced that the green light has been given with the signing of a final agreement.

Seven months after Alfa Romeo revealed that it was in talks with Mazda to explore basing a new convertible on the next-generation MX-5, the two carmakers have announced that the green light has been given with the signing of a final agreement.

Recycling the next-generation Mazda MX-5 is a dramatic new direction for Alfa Romeo to take as well as something of a bold gamble. The statement says there will be differentiation, both in terms of styling and use of powertrains.

However it will remain to be seen how far the differentiation goes, especially in light of Fiat's slew of - mostly unsuccessful - recent rebadges where cost containment rode over final product. Fiat's current financial difficulties mean that greater investment in new models is much more tricky to justify while it will also have to overcome perceptions of being a dressed up Mazda. However, the recent Toyota-Subaru sports car project is a good example of creating perceptions of differentiation and if this gamble can pay off it could create an addition to the depleted Alfa Romeo line-up that would offer attractive margins.

The statement issued by Fiat and Mazda read: "Further to the joint announcement of May 23, 2012, Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) and Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. (Fiat) announced today the signing of the Final Agreement which will see Mazda produce an open-top two-seater sports car for Fiatís Alfa Romeo brand at its Hiroshima, Japan, plant starting from 2015.

"The new Alfa Romeo roadster will be developed for the global market, and will be based on the architecture of the next generation Mazda MX-5," the press release continued. "The agreement foresees for both Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. The Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.

"Through this contractual agreement, Mazda aims to enhance development and production efficiency and revitalize enthusiasm for open-top two-seater sports cars around the world. For Fiat, this collaboration will permit the company to deliver a modern interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo roadster utilising the latest technical solutions, helping Alfa Romeo to achieve its stated goals by 2016," the statement concluded.
 

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