Alfa Romeo Spider/MX-5
Fresh off the back of our first drive of the Alfa Romeo 4C PH has got news on the Italian marque's forthcoming small sports car, which will share its chassis with the next generation Mazda MX-5 as part of an engineering
tie-up between the Italian and Japanese firms.
One thing the Alfa won't share with the Mazda however, is its engine. Speaking to PH at the launch of the 4C, head of Alfa Romeo Europe Louis-Carl Vignon outlined the new car "will use Alfa engines, not jointly-developed engines", meaning it's more than likely the car will be powered by the new all-aluminium 1.75-litre four-cylinder turbocharged motor from the 4C, detuned and "producing around 200hp."
The unit is mounted transversely in Alfa's new carbonfibre sports car, which means it might require some modification for the upcoming front-engined convertible in order to send drive to the rear - "Rear-wheel drive is part of Alfa's history, so it'll be part of its future, too, and not just on the new small sports car," according to Vignon.
Expect the engine to be mated to the firm's new dual-clutch TCT transmission, but here's hoping the Italian marque offers a manual version, too.
Harking back to Alfa's of old it's thought the new roadster will be called the 'Spider', and just as the name evokes a dose of rose-tinted history, so will the styling.
"It'll have Alfa's traditional scudetto [the famous 'shield' grille] and like the 4C is very squat and very taut. It will draw styling cues from the 4C but will definitely have its own identity," believes Alfa's European head honcho. "It'll have more luxury than the 4C, too."
What the Spider will share with the fourth generation MX-5 is Mazda's lightweight, efficiency-focused 'Skyactiv' approach to vehicle construction, a point Alfa has welcomed with open arms. Vignon elaborates: "Mazda's Skyactiv attitude to building vehicles fits with Alfa Romeo's values and what the company stands for. The 4C is a line in the sand - everything after this has to be lightweight, efficient and high-performance. Technology and knowledge from the 4C will filter down on to the next generation of Alfa road cars."
So if Mazda isn't getting Alfa's new torquey turbo engines, what is it getting out of the project? "The partnership will give Mazda more sales volume", he reckons.
And if that means more of the 4C's grin factor at a more affordable price then we'll be happy, Alfa's Spider due a year after its MX-5 relation and on sale in 2015.