The lightweight two-seaters are expected to bow in 2015.

After drafting a non-binding memorandum of understanding last May, Fiat-owned Alfa Romeo and Mazda have agreed to jointly develop an all-new rear-wheel drive two-seater roadster.

Although both cars will ride on Mazda's lightweight next-generation MX-5 platform, they will utilize entirely different engines and will wear a distinctly different design to avoid blatant badge-engineering.

Both cars will be built in Mazda's Hiroshima, Japan, plant, a risky decision considering the country's ever-rising currency.

The agreement has advantages for both companies. On the Italian side of the deal, it allows Alfa to improve its image by launching its first regular-production rear-drive convertible in over twenty years. On the Japanese side of the deal, it enables troubled Mazda to share the cost and the burden of developing the next-gen MX-5.

What each car will look like is not currently known, but the Alfa model will more than likely be billed as a heir to the iconic 105/115-series Spider that was phased out in 1994.

"By partnering with Mazda, we will be co-operating with the recognized leader in compact rear-drive vehicle architectures in order to deliver an exciting and stylish roadster in the Alfa Romeo tradition," said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Photo by Ronan Glon.