Mazda and Alfa Romeo are joining forces to build the . The 2-passenger roadsters will place a priority on keeping things simple, and small. As we already noted a couple months ago, Mazda's engineers are working hard to trim weight (reportedly as much as 200 lb.) from the 2014 Miata. This could be aided by the Japanese automaker's growing lineup of SkyActiv models, which offer improved performance and fuel economy thanks to their significantly lighter chassis and powertrains. That same engineering approach will certainly be applied here.
For the moment, Mazda and Alfa are keeping the specifics of the arrangement under wraps. In a previous statement, the two companies said they would "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." Judging from these artist illustrations – not official images, mind you, but a pretty good guess – it appears each car has its own unique shape and personality.
The next Miata should sport much more pronounced fenders and a blunter front and rear end. Horizontal bars and a large Mazda emblem dominate the bigger grille. Those over 6-foot have always struggled to squeeze into the Miata cabin, so expect Mazda to focus some attention on boosting interior room and comfort. Considering the car's ongoing weight loss regime, it's possible Mazda could eliminate heavy and complex features like the current model's optional retractable folding hardtop.
In comparison, the Alfa Romeo Spyder has a sleeker and more expensive look to it – no surprise, since the Alfa is likely to cost more. There is definitely a hint of the classic "boat-tail" Spyder that Dustin Hoffman drove in the film "The Graduate." Unlike the wide-eyed Miata, the Alfa could feature LED-intensive lighting at the front and rear. Ornamentation and superfluous details appear to be kept to an absolute minimum on this Alfa. A character line runs from the front fender to the door handles, and that's pretty much it.
These are pint-sized roadsters, so the engine lineup is guaranteed to consist of rev-happy 4-cylinders. We've speculated that Mazda could opt for a normally aspirated 1.8-liter, or turbocharged 1.3 or 1.5-liter engine. Personally, the latter options sound the most intriguing – come on, Mazda! Alfa can easily dip into the Fiat parts-bin and install the highly entertaining and turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir 4-cylinder into the engine bay for the Spyder. A choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic equipped with paddle-shifters should be available in either vehicle. Expect Mazda to try to peg pricing as close as possible to the current Miata's base price of approximately $25,000. We'd expect the Alfa price tag to fall closer to $30,000.