Alpha Romeo Roadster to be based the New MX-5

Mazda Motor Corp, maker of one of history's most iconic two-seater convertibles, and Fiat SpA are teaming up to produce a new generation of sports cars to revive their flagging fortunes.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The Mazda MX-5, being the best selling 2 seat roadster ever made, is a good example of the classic roadster perfectly reborn into modern times. The car is not a popular choice here in the UAE compared to other places especially due to the distressing price-tag at the Mazda dealer.

Currently, Mazda is working on developing a new lighter more advanced MX-5 but that is not the only big news; Mazda & Fiat are working on settling an alliance which could yield to the creation of an Alpha Romeo roadster based on the new MX-5 platform.

Such move is justified as Alpha Romeo desperately needs a rear wheel drive roadster. It somehow is the essence of the brand especially after settling mostly with front wheel drive for some couple of decades so far.

This is not an unusual combination but the first of its kind among Mazda and Fiat Group. Nowadays different cars have more similarities than ever, signs of our times. Following excerpts from wired.com, thestar.com & caradvice.com.au: wisely analyze the decision and initiative taken by both car-makers:

Mazda and Alfa’s parent company Fiat Group Automobiles have signed a memorandum of understanding that will see the Japanese and Italian companies combine forces to develop an all-new, rear-wheel-drive roadster that will go on sale in 2015.

The new roadsters will not be near-identical twins like the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ rear-wheel-drive coupes. A joint statement from Fiat and Mazda stressed the two models would be distinctly different, with differentiated styling and engines.

If the two cars do retain their individual personalities, and if there’s a turbo Multiair under the hood of the Alfa, it sounds like this partnership has a chance of avoiding the fate shared by other cars that tried to merge the best of East and West — like the Honda/Rover Sterling disaster, or Alfa and Nissan’s miserable Arna hatchback.

Most importantly, it helps Alfa bring back a model integral to its brand identity that’s been missing since the last Spider crawled off the assembly line in 2010. Alfa’s roadsters may be icons — remember the Duetto Dustin Hoffman drove in The Graduate? — but today nobody builds an affordable rear-wheel drive roadster better than Mazda.

Alfa Romeo pulled out of the United States in 1995 and is already set to return in late 2013 with the planned 4C sportscar.

Some analysts expect the revamped Spider to boost Alfa in the world’s biggest two-seater sports car market and saw sales of around 20,000 a year.

Mazda’s MX-5, launched in 1989, is the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history, with more than 900,000 sold, according to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011.

But Japan’s fifth-largest car maker is looking lonely on the global car alliance scene.

Ford owned a third of Mazda’s shares under a 31-year alliance, but had to sell most of its stake to raise cash and now owns just 2 per cent, leaving the Japanese company to link up with several rivals in joint ventures.

Cost savings from such deals have not been enough to save Mazda from posting four years of losses, as it struggles with a strong yen, which makes its cars less competitive overseas.

It builds most of its cars in Japan and exports almost 80 per cent of them.

After seeing two decades of front wheel drive domination it seems that some car makers regret letting go of such layout especially on a sports car.

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