A ‘specialty’ Fiat roadster based on the upcoming Mazda MX-5 platform is likely to be available in New Zealand in 2016 and sit above the Fiat Abarth Esseesse 500 as the carmaker’s hero car.
The two-door is the result of a model-sharing agreement announced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2012 for a joint Mazda-Alfa Romeo roadster to be built at the Japanese company’s plant in Hiroshima.
Alfa Romeo of course is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. FCA outlined its five-year product plan in Detroit (see Jeep Gladiator story) and indicated a ‘specialty’ Fiat model would go on sale in North America and Europe in 2015.
No mention was made of a right-hand-drive example, although it is understood executives from Fiat Chrysler Group Australia have been told they will get the two-door at some point.
Already it is rumoured to be the new version of the Fiat Barchetta (above), a left-hand-drive-only roadster built in Italy between 1995 and 2005. It ran a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that delivered 97kW/ 164Nm and a top speed of 200km/h. Around 58,00 were made before production ceased.
The Mazda-Fiat sportscar will share the new MX-5’s SkyActiv underpinnings but have separate styling and engines. The Fiat version will probably get one of the new cleaner-burning four-cylinder engines Fiat Chrysler is developing.
Mazda showed the SkyActiv chassis for the MX-5 at the recent New York motor show. Mazda NZ managing director Andrew Clearwater has said he expects the MX-5 here in 2015. It is highly unlikely that the Fiat version would arrive before 2016 at the earliest, considering that Mazda is building it.
Alfa Romeo also has a mystery ‘specialty’ car on the books, one of eight new models to be built over the next five years under a NZ$9 billion expansion plan.
Speculation in Europe is that it is a go-faster version of the new 4C roadster (due in NZ in July), perhaps powered by a new four-cylinder engine being developed with Ferrari.