Love it or hate it (and really, how could you hate it?) the Mazda MX-5 Miata has been incredibly successful. In February 2011, the car crossed 900,000 unit sales since its 1989 introduction. According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the Miata is the best-selling two-seat sports car. The MX-5 has held this record since May 2000, when it reached 531,890 units.
While in the form it has remained similar to the original, the MX-5 has gained a lot of weight. Mazda research and development Hirotaka Kanazawa has said the next-generation model will be a return to form: “We will return to the original. It will be lightweight and the cost will be lightweight too. It will be easy to handle and fun to drive.”
The weight target has been set at 2,200 pounds. 1989 original tipped the scales at 2,150 and the current car comes in at 2,410. We were expecting to see the replacement arrive in 2014, but that may be pushed back. Today Mazda has announced a partnership with Fiat on a new, lightweight rear-wheel drive platform. This platform will underpin an all-new MX-5, and will enable Alfa Romeo to get a small roadster of its own. This is one of the best partnerships we’ve seen in a long time.
Mazda, who no longer has Ford as a strong partner, needs to form alliances to provide economies of scale. Fiat is looking for efficiencies as well, and partnering Mazda is a great way to get small roadster expertise. Is it possible we could even see a Dodge roadster based on the platform in the future? Stranger things have happened. Mazda says the two roadsters will be powered by different engines. And, lest you think they’ll be rebadged, the two will be “distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific.” In our opinion, this is automotive partnership at its best. Hopefully, it doesn’t push back the next MX-5 too much though.