The very first pictures have been taken of what is thought to be the new Mazda MX-5 and Alfa Romeo Spider. The two companies have joined up to produce these vehicles which will share a platform but differ in engine and style. They will both be two-seater sports cars and are likely to be a big highlight of 2015 in the car world.
The current vehicle does not impress at the moment though. It has masking tape around the headlights and is missing the side skirts but the main camouflage is over the powertrain.
The vehicle was interestingly seen in testing in Michigan’s Auburn Hills. This is the world headquarters for Chrysler. Alfa Romeo is one of the Chrysler family and looks over Alfa Romeo. It is therefore expected that although this test mule has the body of a Mazda, it is more likely to have a Alfa Romeo 4C supercar powertrain which has been rotated by 180 degrees.
If this is right then it will be likely to have a turbocharged 1.7 litre engine capable of 237 bhp. The output from the engine is sent to the rear wheels using a dual clutch TCT gearbox which has paddleshift. It will have the ‘SkyActiv’ chassis of Mazda which will bring the weight down significantly although not as lightweight as the 4C which is carbonfibre.
This SkyActiv design will also be used on the MX-5 by Mazda, The new 3 hatchback and 6 saloon have reduced their weights by around 100kg compared to the cars that went before them, but it may be difficult for the MX5 to lose that much weight.
In the UK there will be a manual gearbox as the automatic was not met with enthusiasm. The UK saes make up 50% of the European market and 10% of the worldwide one, so it is important to keep them happy. The American market may see an automatic though. The new MX-5 will have a folding hard top and a canvas roof option. The entry model is expected to cost less than £20,000.
There may also be a demand for a Mazda MX-5 MPS to compete with the likes of the Porsche Boxster or Z4. However, the company are working on reducing CO2 and weight which means that they are unlikely to want to put a high powered, sporty model on to the market. Insiders have said that they would like to see a MPS range but the SkyActiv engines will not allow it. As they have ultra high compression, it isn’t possible to tune the turbochargers and produce suitable amounts of power. However the Alfa Spider could possibly produce something impressive with its 4C engine.