The forthcoming Alfa Romeo Spider will not be a rebodied Mazda MX-5, it has been confirmed to CAR magazine. In an interview published in the new January 2015 issue, the head of the Alfa brand revealed that its new Spider would be developed in-house, rather than in collaboration with the Japanese.
This is a stark U-turn for the Fiat group. Back in May 2012, Mazda and Fiat announced a plan to develop future sports cars jointly - with the promise of a new Alfa Romeo roadster to be built in Japan from 2015.
Harald Wester, Alfa Romeo chief, says new Spider is NOT an MX-5
CAR magazine’s European editor Georg Kacher interviewed Harald Wester, the brand chief of both Alfa Romeo and Maserati for the latest edition of CAR magazine. And two sentences of his transcript stand out.
‘As far as the Spider goes, the final version is of course no longer the two-seater FCA [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] codeveloped with Mazda but a derivative of project Giorgio,’ Wester told us.
Project Giorgio is the codename for the Italians’ new in-house rear-wheel drive architecture which will underpin most of Alfa Romeo’s future models, including the new Giulia 159 replacement and now the new Spider as well.
Wester confirmed that the Italians' Mazda MX-5 partnership is far from dead, however. ‘The Far East import will probably find a new home with Fiat-Abarth,’ he told us - raising the prospect of a new Fiat Barchetta or long-rumoured proper standalone Abarth sports car.
Alfa and Mazda to co-develop roadsters: the background
The original 2012 statement from Fiat said: ‘The study calls for both Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific, lightweight roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. The Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.
'The project assumption is that both vehicles will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant with production for Alfa Romeo envisaged starting in 2015.’
Sounds like the plan fell by the wayside as Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne restructured his premium Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands to work closer together. In a game of musical chairs, the Italians are swapping one of their brands in the Mazda collaboration for another.
Click here to read more about the new 2015 Mazda MX-5.