Mazda/Alfa Romeo Roadster Alliance: The Bright Side Of Consolidation

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Back when I was searching for my first car, I briefly found an Alfa Romeo Spider that looked like it would be in passable condition. Before I could even call the number from the classified ad, my father chimed in with his usual wisdom. “Oh, you don’t want to start with those. They were crap! Just get a Miata and finish!”.

Now, after 25 years of utter dominance, the Miata has finally consumed the last icon of European two-seaters, the Alfa Romeo Spider. Mazda and Fiat signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop new, lightweight roadsters specific to each brand. Both would be built at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant. While the new MX-5 is just around the corner, the Alfa would start production in 2015.

Alfa Romeo cars, particularly vintage ones, have an enormous following in Japan, and the tie-up with a “premium” brand will reflect well on Mazda, which is saddled with financial troubles and a gloomy future, despite a new wave of promising product. Unfortunately for Miata owners, it will be hard to harp on Alfas for oil leaks, electrical issues and other maladies once Mazda starts building the Spider to the Miata’s superb level of reliability.

The big question here is the implications for Mazda and a potential Fiat alliance. Mazda has been adamant about forming partnerships in order to ensure its survival, and Sergio Marchionne told Automobile this month that a broader partnership with Mazda would be attractive. When you think about it, a Mazda/Alfa partnership isn’t too much of a stretch…

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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5 of 21 comments
  • Higheriq Higheriq on May 23, 2012

    Let's get one thing straight, the perception is still pretty much the same, although the REALITY may be outdated. Fiats in the U.S. were attractive but suffered from durability issues. I know of at least three friends who had X19's which went through 3 engines (each!). And a couple of friends who also had 124 Spyders where the oil leaks could NEVER be stopped. Fiat has stated that they will use Fiat/Alfa engines in the new joint-venture roadster. I for one will not be trading my Miata for an Alfa; let someone else be the ginea pig.

  • Wfs100 Wfs100 on May 23, 2012

    While it's unfair to call upon reliability impressions from more than a few years ago - have a look at - the Reliability Index from Warranty Direct, a UK auto warranty organization. Alfas have been sold across the last decades in the UK and rather than "Billy Bob says..." have a look at the 3 Alfas listed. Just a hint - firmly in the "poor" range.

  • Zarba Zarba on May 23, 2012

    My wife graduated college in 1989. She had her choice, Miata or Spider. God Bless her, she took the Spider. It rests peacefully in the garage as I write. Was the Miata a better car? In every way...yes. And the Alfa has...soul. No contest.

    • Ras815 Ras815 on May 23, 2012

      Amen. A well-cared for (and regularly driven!) Spider is a driver's dream.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Oct 22, 2012

    Hopefully they do what Audi has done for Lambo. Let the Italians style it, then turn it over to the Japanese to build properly.