What we've drummed up from our imaginations, current automotive DNA, and a chat with Fiat Group's design head, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, is this: the 2017 Fiat Spider, aka the Mazda MX-5 with new front and rear fasciae.
"Fiat is a brand that is meant to be happy," Ramaciotti said. "We want the car to be viewed and loved like a pet." Even so, taking an aggressively designed MX-5 and making it "playful" was a task that took us several attempts.
Luckily, we were able to grab closer looks at the MX-5 chassis and concept car at the 2014 Paris motor show, and even had the pleasure to stumble upon the MX-5 Global Cup car during SEMA. We noticed lines along the upper arch of the headlights similar to the new 500X, as well as the distinct line between the front bumper and the hood, which is strangely like the 500's grille surround. The new MX-5 sports a protruding snout, but this just means more room for a larger intercooler if Fiat decides to shove in a growling Abarth engine.
The Scion FR-S and Subaru BR-Z are the current benchmark when it comes to cross-breeding sports cars. The fact they're so similar seems like a missed opportunity.
One thing this Fiata could have going for it is an entirely different design philosophy to affect a departure from ready-made parts. A $30,000 Fiat roadster with a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive is fine by us and quite probably a vast majority of recent college grads looking to ditch their sacrificial Corollas.
The last affordable Italian roadster to cruise American highways was the Alfa Romeo Spider, practically unchanged since Dustin Hoffman made it Hollywood-famous in The Graduate. Dreams of restoring a Duetto or a Giulietta are dwindling by the hour, thanks to a flood of investors who view classic cars as their ticket to retirement wealth.
This potential Fiat/Mazda collaboration could generate a new cult classic. Or a new "cute" car that will repel men and sell in droves to women (the stronger deciding power regarding vehicle purchases). It could also mean even more drivers in the middle of the pack hunting for a seventh-place finish at the local SCCA racing weekend.
This notion has to be one of the best things to emerge from the auto industry of late and has yet to receive any denials. Until they pull off the covers from the real thing, though, here's the breakdown.