Alfa Romeo is readying an exciting new Spider roadster that will go on sale in the next few years and feature an all-new rear-wheel-drive chassis – thanks to a joint venture with Mazda.
The deal will allow Alfa to use the chassis that will underpin the next generation of the world’s best-selling sports car: the Mazda MX-5. Both versions will be built at Mazda’s home in Hiroshima, Japan, although they will get different bodies, engines, interiors and gearboxes.
The two companies won’t reveal exact details, but Auto Express has learned that Alfa Romeo will make its model a spiritual successor to the much-loved Duetto Spider, which first appeared in 1966 and played a starring role in the 1967 Dustin Hoffman movie, The Graduate.
We’ve produced these illustrations to give you the best idea of how the two-seater will look. Its curves reference the original Duetto Spider, and it features rounded headlights plus a lower Alfa grille mounted between a pair of front vents.
The rear-drive chassis will be incredibly light, making use of Mazda’s advanced SKYACTIV technology, so expect the Spider to weigh less than 1,000kg. And the front-mounted engine will be positioned as close to the centre of the car as possible to ensure great handling.
Thanks to that low weight, the Spider won’t need a huge engine, and in keeping with the back-to-basics philosophy of the MX-5, the car is expected to feature a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo, with power ranging
from 135bhp to 175bhp.
However, it’s possible that any high-performance Cloverleaf version would have the upcoming 4C coupé’s 1.75-litre turbo, with well over 230bhp.
There’s no word on cost just yet, but the Alfa Spider is expected to sit slightly above the new MX-5, with a starting price of around £20,000. A soft-top and folding hard-top are likely to be available. Production of the new sports car will start in 2015.
New Spider heralds Alfa’s return to the US
The tie-up between Alfa Romeo and Mazda is great news – it revives one of the most-loved cars in the history of the Italian company and ensures it won’t cost a fortune to buy. The move should also mean Mazda has more money to develop the MX-5. It’s a win-win.
Joint ventures like this are becoming increasingly popular as car makers seek to minimise production costs and tap into expert knowledge (Mazda certainly knows how to make a small rear-drive roadster).
Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne is a master at this, having already brought the company together with Chrysler, then teaming up with General Motors. And the growth of Alfa is key to this latest deal – a new Spider will be crucial when it comes to re-entering the North American market.
The 4C sports car – due on sale in Europe and the States next year – has already whet the appetite, but US buyers loved the original Duetto Spider and will lap up a reborn version.
Intriguingly, though, Fiat says the MX-5/Spider project is just the start. Could that mean a new Barchetta? We won’t have to wait too long to find out.