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Mazda And Fiat Ink Agreement On Next-Generation Alfa Romeo Spider 18
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2015 Alfa Romeo Spider, alfa-romeo, Automotive, Kurt, Mazda, News on 01 18th, 2013
Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta concept - image: Laszlo Daroczy
Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta concept - image: Laszlo Daroczy

Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta concept – image: Laszlo Daroczy

It was semi-official, but now it’s officially official: Mazda will build a two-seat roadster for Fiat at its Hiroshima, Japan plant. The car will be sold under the Alfa Romeo brand, and chances are good that it will be labelled the Alfa Romeo Spider, in homage to the classic affordable Italian roadster produced from 1966 – 1993.

The Alfa Romeo model will be based on the next Mazda MX-5, but it will feature styling unique to the brand. While both the Alfa Romeo and the Mazda will retain a front-engine, rear-drive layout, expect the Alfa to use a Fiat engine, while the MX-5 will use a Mazda-built engine.

The move is a win for both brands, since it gives Mazda needed production volume while allowing Alfa Romeo to bring a (badly needed) car to market more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Expect the Alfa Romeo to be positioned above the MX-5 in both price and performance, which will help to protect Mazda’s market share.

The only bad news we see is this: production isn’t scheduled to begin until 2015, meaning that a new Alfa Romeo Spider is at least two years off, and that’s assuming the project doesn’t encounter delays. From our perspective, the car can’t get here soon enough.

Image credit: Laszlo Daroczy, CC 2.0

Development Delays May Push Back Alfa Romeo’s Return To The U.S. Market 4
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2015 Alfa Romeo Spider, Alfa Romeo 4C, Alfa Romeo Giulia, alfa-romeo, Automotive, Kurt, News on 09 4th, 2012

Alfa Romeo’s 4C concept – Image: Alfa Romeo

If you’ve been counting down the days until you could walk into a Fiat dealer and drive out in an Alfa Romeo 4C or Giulia, we’ve got some bad news for you: your wait just got a bit longer, although we won’t know specific details until the end of October.

Per Automotive News (subscription required), that’s when Fiat-Chrysler head Sergio Marchionne is expected to release a new timeline for the relaunch of the Alfa Romeo brand in the United States. Development delays have almost certainly pushed back the introduction of the 4C and Giulia, as well as a mid-sized SUV to be developed from the new Jeep Liberty platform.

Initial deliveries of the 4C, originally expected by the end of 2012, likely won’t occur until late in 2013, as the production version of the car isn’t expected to debut before January’s Detroit Auto Show. Details are scarce on the midsize Giulia sedan and wagon, but it’s known that several designs have been shot down by Marchionne, delaying the development process.

We’re not sure that’s a bad thing, since getting Alfa Romeo’s products right before introducing them to the United States is critical to the brand’s success. Whether a mainstream launch happens in 2013 or 2014 is academic, but buyer’s won’t forgive bland products or marginal build quality.

Longer term, Alfa Romeo will launch a revised front-engine, rear-drive Spider roadster in 2015, built on the next-generation Mazda Miata platform. While assembly will take place in Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan assembly plant, power for the open-air Alfa is expected to come from a version of the turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder used in the 4C. That should be good for around 200 horsepower, in a car expected to weigh in at around 2,200 pounds. In other words, we expect the Spider to be an Alfa worth waiting for.

Mazda Partners With Fiat To Build Alfa Romeos 23
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Mazda MX-5, 2015 Alfa Romeo Spider, alfa-romeo, Automotive, Kurt, Mazda, News on 05 23rd, 2012

Pininfarina's 2uettottanta Concept. Image: Pininfarina

Finally, there’s a bit of good news on the horizon for Mazda: the Japanese automaker, best known for building cars with an undeniable fun-to-drive factor, has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a convertible sports car for the Alfa Romeo brand.

What that means, in theory at least, is that Mazda will develop the platform for a new Alfa Romeo Spider, based off the platform of the upcoming Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Alfa will use a different drivetrain, but will retain the MX-5’s front-engine, rear-drive layout. It will wear unique bodywork, too, hopefully along the lines of the drool-worth 2uettottanta concept shown by Pininfarina in 2010.

If all goes as planned, the new Alfa Spider will hit production in 2015, built in the same Hiroshima, Japan, factory that cranks out the Mazda MX-5. That gives Mazda a jump on the market of some 14 months, but that won’t matter to the Alfa Romeo faithful, who will likely be putting down deposits on a new Spider in the coming weeks.

Details of the relationship between Mazda and Fiat are still being hashed out, but a successful joint venture on the next Alfa Spider could presumably lead to more cooperation between Mazda and Fiat in the future.