A first look at the next-generation 2015 Mazda MX-5, and its reborn Alfa Romeo Spider twin, comes courtesy of this testing mule with the new car cloaked by an outgoing MX-5 body.
The most noticeable change to the regular MX-5 body is longer front doors, indicating that Mazda will aim to improve cabin entry and egress with the new, fourth-generation model. A stretched nose indicates overall length will increase, while the flared front guards accommodate the wider front track of the new model.
Inside, it appears new controls have been bolted-on over the existing Mazda MX-5 dashboard, revealing three new circular controls that will be high-set. The new MX-5 will likely feature the same MZD Connect system with app connectivity and touchscreen interface first seen in the third-generation Mazda 3.
Mazda will almost certainly include the auto braking and head-up display technologies that also feature in the new Mazda 3.
Its program of Skyactiv technologies will also likely further shed kilograms from the 1167kg roadster. This may be where Alfa Romeo’s input comes in, as the Italian manufacturer has been more progressive than Mazda with utilising lightweight construction materials in its Alfa Romeo 4C.
The 4C, however, costs around $25,000 more locally than the outgoing MX-5, so the next-generation MX-5 and Spider won’t use carbonfibre chassis construction, but may use elements of that strong, light but expensive material.
Mazda has committed to its Skyactiv-G range of naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines, resisting the urge to downsize displacement and turbocharge as almost all mainstream manufacturers are doing, and the MX-5 will follow suit. The Japanese manufacturer has confirmed that “the Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand”.
Alfa Romeo will use its own small turbo petrol engines for its version, which is also expected to wear a unique body, not just different styling cues.
“Mazda aims to enhance development and production efficiency and revitalise enthusiasm for open-top two-seater sports cars around the world,” the car maker added in January 2013, when the Mazda/Alfa Romeo partnership was announced.
“The agreement foresees for both Mazda and Fiat to develop two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive.
“For Fiat, this collaboration will permit the company to deliver a modern interpretation of the classic Alfa Romeo roadster utilising the latest technical solutions, helping Alfa Romeo to achieve its stated goals by 2016.”