By on August 31, 2012

While discussing the future of a Mazda/Fiat collaboration last week, one industry insider trusted by TTAC had this to say

“It’s a bit like a first dance during the sixth grade…the Roadster, I mean. They’re leaving room for Jesus, but still able to cop a feel if they’re lucky.”

Now we’ve got more info on the Alfa/Mazda collaboration, and the possibility of more co-operation between Fiat and Japan’s last auto maker.

Speaking to the media, Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi said that while the two roadsters would share weight-saving technology, powertrains and price points would differ. The new MX-5 would use a Skyactiv motor, while the Alfa would be an upscale product. Yamanouchi also had this to say regarding future partnerships between the two brands

“We want to achieve success with the MX-5 and Spyder project first,” he continued. “We can learn more about each other and see what opportunities exist.

It’s pretty plain to see that this is all but a confirmation of future products being develop side by side. The synergies are there; Fiat has the economies of scale to help Mazda make it worthwhile. Mazda is independent, a distinct disadvantage in this era (even with Sumitomo in the background), but has the engineering expertise and an Asian market foothold.

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39 Comments on “Mazda, Alfa Romeo Roadster Could Be The Start Of A Beautiful Friendship...”


  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    This is such a good idea, I don’t know why it wasn’t done before. Mazda has, for all intents and purposes, positioned itself as the Japanese Alfa Romeo (I used to think Japanese MG, but they don’t really do sports cars anymore), so this seems like such a natural fit based on the shared brand values and similar positioning. I just hope their different engineering teams work well together so nothing screws this up.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      Just don’t add any German car companies into the mix, and we’ll all live in peace.

      /bad joke, sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I have always thought of the first generation Miata as a Lotus Elan roadster that didn’t break all the time. The subsequent generations have moved away from the original styling but Mazda’s commitment to small and light remains intact.

      Except for the Alfa Romeo name, I wonder what Fiat has to contribute. Would it benefit Mazda to build cars in Fiat plants?

  • avatar

    Lamborghini + Audi = greatness
    I have high hopes the synergy between Alfa and Mazda will be as mutually beneficial!

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Makes perfect sense. Two seaters in general are so low volume that it’s hard to make an financial case for them. It makes perfect sense to collaborate with another manufacturer to save on development costs.

    Frankly I think Mazda should have collaborated with Lotus. Lotus was and is the original proponent of ultra light weight, small sports cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      Yes, and if I recall, the Elan was the main inspiration for the MX5 way back when.

      • 0 avatar
        pgcooldad

        It was always the Alfa Spider. Matter of fact, the program didn’t get approval till the CEO was taken for a ride along the California coast with the Alfa.

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        I believe the MGB was Mazda’s inspiration when designing the Miata, not the Elan.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        I have no documentation to back my claim up. But, when I got my ’92 mx-5 I recall buying a book on the making of the miata, I distinctly recall quite a few inspirational cars for the miata, including the Alpha spider, bug-eye sprite, elan and others.

        All I know for sure is they nailed it on the first try, and I hope they can recapture the simplicity of the original. Maybe with Alpha we’ll get something truly special, but I have to believe that Mazda has the all-new mx-5 all but complete, and are just testing and fine-tuning the engineering and design at this point…

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        I don’t know if Bob Hall, the product planner at the time for Mazda, envisioned the Miata as a more dependable Elan that doesn’t leak oil. I know that auto writers road testing the then new Miata made that comparision.

        When the Hall twins and I were college students in the ’70s, we rallyed together in separate teams. So, when I read that Bob Hall was the planner for the Miata, it made perfect sense. Let me be clear that the Halls and I were not drinking buddies, except at end of rallye pizza joints. I just have a lot of respect for what they knew about sports cars and sport sedans.

        As to the collaboration with Alfa, it sounds like a Solstice / Sky arrangement, and I would vote for Mazda keeping the lead as the developer in this project. I love the ’60s and ’70 products from Alfa, but in this situation they should do nothing but learn from Mazda if the two are developing affordable sports cars.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      2 broke car companies under the same roof. Makes sense.

      • 0 avatar
        SherbornSean

        I am with Probert. While I respect Mazda and have fond memories of Alfa, this smells of desperation, like two lonely drunks hooking up at closing time.

        When is the last time two financially challenged carmakers had a successful joint venture? Allante? Chrysler TC?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Renault + Nissan is the biggest one I can think of.

        Being that Alfa + Fiat are together, does this mean Mazda will be sharing development ideas w/Chrysler too?

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        @sportyaccord: oh god no.

        …But a Hemi miata could be cool :-)

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    The old saying associated with Fiat was “Fix It Again Tony”. Hopefully it won’t be a “Fix It Again Takashi” moment for Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The Mazda Miata is arguably the highest quality car currently available on the market. I don’t expect that to change for the Miata. The idea of paying a premium for a Fiat drivetrain instead of a Mazda drivetrain is difficult to take seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        Davelee123

        Mazda diesels have a very poor reputation in the UK because of particulate filter failure. Small fiats now have a very good reputation for reliability. Reputation means nothing. A firm is only as good as the car its building and selling now.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Luckily I am planning to get my Miata with a petrol engine.

        In the 2012 UK JD Power survey Mazda ranks 17th (its products are hit or miss other than the Miata – especially because of sharing – my understanding is that many of the Mazda diesels come from PSA), but Fiat ranks 25th.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Hopefully the Italians will make Mazda design it so it fits tall people.

    • 0 avatar
      toomanycrayons

      Great point, when did 6′ 2″ become a freak of nature? “Sorry, the MX5/Miata only comes in this size.”

    • 0 avatar
      Georgewilliamherbert

      I’m 6’4.5″ and fit just fine in my RX-8 and the times I’ve rented a Mazda3, 6, and all the various *UVs. I am not the tallest person in the world, but I’m plenty tall.

      The Miata is a sad joke with my height – I literally raise the roof, and look straight out through the windshield frame metal (cough) when I test fit one, but I wasn’t expecting better.

      Slightly shocking that I do fit in a BMW Z4, but it weighs more than the RX-8 by hundreds of pounds and is much less convenient and comfortable.

  • avatar
    probert

    WHatever they make will cost the same as a mustang so why even bother. I mean is it as good as a mustang. you know what I mean?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      They bother because the MX5/Alfa equivalent will sell in Europe and elsewhere that the Mustang (currently) doesn`t sell in. Mazda have shown their is a market, albeit a small one.

      Greater collaboration is a great idea, take an American company with reasonable market share (Chrysler), add a European company with reasonable market share (FIAT) and then finally add a Japanese company with reasonable market share (and is global – Mazda) and you have the potential to have a good long term collaboration. Worked for Renault and Nissan who were strong in different markets.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      It will be a light convertable, perfectly balanced with IRS. So, no, I don’t know what you mean.

      • 0 avatar
        Georgewilliamherbert

        The Mustang is (properly) a GT car – 4 seats (or at least 2+2), usable rear seat and trunk, intended for utility use as well as performance. Necessarily larger to fit the extra seats. Other comparable cars include RX-8 (formerly) in the Mazda lineup, Camaro, etc., to some degree Nissan 370Z (thought it only has 2 seats) and Corvette (ditto). The main point is that they’re sacrificing small for utility.

        The Miata is (properly) a small sports car, which is big enough for 2 people and a little baggage, and does not compromise on size or weight for utility. There is no Ford equivalent (or other US brand, really).

        There’s also a midweight sports car, which the Corvette and former RX-7s fit into, along with Boxter/Cayman and a few others.

        So, back to Probert, what are you looking for, and what are you comparing with? If you want a GT car, you want a GT car. Start with the Mustang, and if you have more cash than god look up perhaps as high as a Ferrari 599. If you want a small sports car, Mustang is a nonsequiteur. An Elise or Caterham or Miata or used S2000 or…

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Not everyone who wants a sub $35k RWD car wants a Mustang. That is the reason the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the Mazda MX-5, the Toyobaru twins, and the BMW 1-series exist.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    A Miata in classic italian styling? Yes please.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    Hopefully this won’t just be another Arna scenario. Also it’d be nice if Chrysler got to groove on this (Dodge Demon or Slingshot, anyone?)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Can we just build some models which look like the one in the picture with an updated drivetrain?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I was trying to decide if it was possible to strech the wheelbase on a unit body like the Miata (say more legroom for those long of inseam) and at a few extra cubic feet to the trunk.

      Miata as sports car, streched Alfa Romeo version as a luxury GT.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    If the product is good, I would buy either a Miata or a RWD Alfa Spider, but I won’t touch anything with a turbo.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I’ve had my 2012 Abarth 500 for a little over 3 months now, zero problems, miles of smiles. Enough with the fix it again tony crap!

    Hey, Ronnie Schreiber… you magnificent bast*ard, you!

    http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/149835/

  • avatar
    robc123

    OMG! finally a japanese styled roadster with an italian engine and reliability.

  • avatar
    Caroholic

    2014 Alfa Romeo Spider

    Mazda MX-5 Chassis

    Alfa Romeo Exterior and Interior Design

    Mazda Turbo Rotary and Manual Transmission

    There’s your Upscale Product

  • avatar
    vaujot

    I think the last time Alfa colaborated with a Japanese manufacturer, the result was the not-fondly-rememberred Alfa Arna.


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