Mazda and Alfa Romeo have announced that they will be teaming up to create the next generation of the MX-5 Miata roadster and the Alfa Romeo Spider.
The alliance between Mazda and Fiat (Alfa Romeo’s owner) is only provisional and Mazda has specifically stated that the roadsters would be powered by “proprietary engines unique to each brand,” according to Jalopnik, which will only benefit the Alfa version, since it will have access to the Dodge Dart’s 184-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine (17-hp more than the current MX-5) and the Dodge Charger’s 470-hp V8 Hemi (hey we can dream).
Mazda has a long history of badge engineering, and now that the company is no longer in bed with Ford it has lost access to the Escape and Ranger, which were the sources for the Tribute and B-Series trucks. Mazda now gets to profit from the other side of badge engineering and sell its Miata to the Italians to be rebadged. Mazda’s Ford-based trucks offered buyers who were domestic-averse (and not very well informed) a chance to buy a small truck or SUV from a Japanese make. Likewise, the Alfa Romeo Spider will give buyers who don’t want to be seen driving a Miata (and let’s face it, among us mucho-macho car guys that’s an issue) a chance to own a great small sports car with a convertible top.
How far will this tie-up go? Will we see a Fiat version of the Alfa Romeo Spider? How about a Dodge version? They still have a few nameplates that haven’t been scavenged yet and had planned a roadster to compete with the Miata before the 08 financial crisis hit. Chrysler does have a history of badge engineering (and even took it farther than anyone else by releasing the Neon as a Plymouth Neon and a Dodge Neon without even bothering to change the name) so this alliance might have far reaching consequences.