Mazda announced an alliance with FIAT Tuesday, which will result in the next-generation MX-5 Miata. In addition to a redesigned version of our 2012 Best Sports Car for the Money, the Miata will also gain an Alfa Romeo sibling. Both sports cars will offer the Miata’s lightweight design and rear-wheel drive, but there will be some differences. They’ll be powered by different engines and offer unique styling which will be specific to each brand.

The partnership will offer some new choices for consumers when both cars hit the market, but it’s also a move that will bolster the success of both automakers. The Detroit News writes, “Japan's fifth-largest automaker [Mazda] has struggled since Ford Motor Co. sold most of its stake in the company during the recent recession, and industry insiders say it is desperately needs a new partner if it is to survive.” For FIAT, the partnership should help solidify the brand as a global automaker. Few details have been released, but both roadsters will be produced at Mazda’s Hiroshima factory starting in 2015.

While that production date means we won’t see Mazda’s redesigned affordable sports car for a few years, the partnership will likely result in more collaboration between the two automakers. Jalopnik says that “the roadster tie-up is the sexy part of a proposed European cooperation between Mazda and Fiat that the two expect to hammer out by the end of 2012. Fiat needs a small, rear-drive architecture and Mazda has it. Mazda needs a partner, and Fiat's star is rising.”

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