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Mazda MX-5 based Alfa may be axed

Despite an official full steam ahead on the Mazda/Fiat Chrysler joint project to develop an Italian-badged roadster based on the next MX-5, its now looking like that badge may not be Alfa Romeo after all.

The project has been praised by Alfa loyalists craving the return of an affordable rear-drive Alfa, but Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has repeatedly insisted that he will not allow any Alfa Romeo models to be built outside Italy.

Both versions of the car were planned to be built by Mazda in Japan, and recent spy shots of each version undergoing testing suggest that development is well underway.

According to Automotive News Europe, the Fiat Chrysler end of the project is now more likely to wear a Fiat or Abarth badge when it arrives after the fourth-generation MX-5’s 2015 debut.

Citing anonymous sources, the report suggests that product planners will soon decide which of Fiat Chrysler’s suite of brands the new model will fit under. 

If the Fiat Chrysler model does shift from Alfa, a significant redesign will likely be necessary, particularly around the trademark Alfa shield grille nose. The mechanicals will likely remain as planned though, with the expected 1.4-litre turbo engine already in use across several Fiat Chrysler models.

Such a move would not leave Alfa without a rear-drive convertible either, with a drop-top version of its 4C sports car due to be revealed in Geneva this week.

This reporter is on Twitter: @Mal_Flynn