By Tim Pollard (artist’s impressions by Christian Schulte)
The Fiat Group’s revelation in May 2012 that it would co-develop the next Alfa Romeo Spider alongside the Mazda MX-5 got everyone at CAR, and its digital audience, salivating. Today we can bring you the latest artist’s impressions showing how this Japanese-Italian fusion could look on the road.
This is perhaps one of the most exciting prospects for years: a project marrying Italian design flair and Alfa Romeo style with the Japanese reliability and back-to-basics MX-5 purity. It could be a marriage made in heaven – we’ll know for sure when we see this duo in 2015.
This is an artist’s impression, remember. None of us yet know exactly how the sports car twins will look, but the rules of jigsaw identification mean we can have a good stab at how they’ll turn out.
The MX-5 hasn’t deviated much over the years from the original 1989 recipe, and our sources at Mazda suggest the same evolutionary style will continue, pepped up with the latest ‘Kodo’ design language seen on the new 6 family car. That means a pointier front face and exaggerated Mazda grille, but the essential footprint of the 2015 MX-5 won’t change much.
This suggests the Alfa Spider won’t be wildly different. The hard points of the architecture will be shared, but each brand will be allowed the freedom to graft on their own grilles and corporate jewellery. Let’s hope they’re allowed more flexibility than the identikit Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins.
While details remain scant on the Spider/MX-5 project, a few nuggets have been announced already in the formal statement.
‘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 companies have confirmed. ‘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.’
Engines in the new Alfa Romeo Spider
Each brand will stick with their own engines, and CAR understands the Spider will use the 1750TBi four-cylinder, tuned to produce more than 200bhp and mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch TCT transmission.
CAR understands the Italian roadster will stick with a folding soft-top, rather than use the MX-5’s folding hard top. Fingers crossed the rear-wheel drive purity of the Mazda comes as standard on the Alfa Romeo Spider.