Mazda Motor Corporation and Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development and manufacturing of a new roadster for both Mazda and Alfa Romeo brands, based on the former’s next-generation MX-5 architecture.

The study calls for both Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. Each will be powered by proprietary engines unique to their brand (eg. SkyActiv G for Mazda, TBi for Alfa). The plan is that both cars will be manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant, with production for the Alfa roadster starting in 2015.

“Establishing technology and product development alliances is one of Mazda’s corporate objectives and this announcement with Fiat is an important first step in that direction. It is especially exciting to be collaborating with such a prestigious marque as Alfa Romeo on a new roadster based on the next-generation MX-5, which is such an iconic vehicle for Mazda and recognised as the best-selling roadster of all time,” said Takashi Yamanouchi, Mazda’s President and CEO.

“This agreement clearly demonstrates our commitment to Alfa Romeo and the determination to grow it into a truly global brand. By partnering with Mazda, we will be co-operating with the recognised leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition. We are appreciative of this collaboration with Mazda and look forward to maintaining a fruitful and continuous relationship,” said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

The final agreement is expected to be signed in the second-half of this year. Mazda and Fiat have also agreed to discuss further opportunities for co-operation in Europe.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I’m just wondering if “Alfa’s MX-5” will look anything like the pretty 4C Concept shown in Geneva 2011. Or how about this sleek Pininfarina proposal seen at Geneva 2010? Anyhow, it’s exciting times ahead!