MX-5 gets all-new compact, rwd, SkyActiv platform

The all-new Mazda MX-5 will be based on all-new steel spaceframe architecture, developed under Mazda’s Sky Activ umbrella. The rear-drive architecture is known internally as S-Platform.

Although a switch to front-drive was considered at an early stage in the project, Mazda was keen not to alienate its huge base of existing customers and invested in the new compact rear-drive platform.

The structure will help Mazda achieve a kerb weight of less than 1000kg, according to highly-placed Mazda sources. This means it will be more than 15 per cent lighter than the current lightest MX-5, the soft-top 1.8i SE model.

The MX-5 has gradually got bigger and heavier over its two generations and Mazda is keen for the model to return to its roots as a lightweight and agile two-seater, with driving fun as its main priority.

The new MX-5’s powertrains will take advantage of the car’s lightness, meaning the end for the current weighty 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines. One Mazda engineering source has said that he would like to see the new model powered by smaller, naturally aspirated, engines, which will still offer a competitive power-to-weight ratio.

A new direct-injection 1.5-litre Sky Activ petrol unit, developing around 130bhp is expected to be the entry-level engine. Other sources say that a more powerful, turbocharged, 1.5-litre engine will also be on the menu. Lightweight SkyActiv transmissions will also be offered. Other weight saving measures will include lightweight speakers and a simple cabin storage bin instead of a glovebox.

The new MX-5 will again be available in soft-top and folding hardtop configurations, but it is not scheduled to be launched until the middle of the decade, later than the originally planned launched date of 2013.

A mildly revised version of the current MX-5 will be launched at the Geneva motor show in March to keep it as fresh as possible until the new model arrives.

Our Verdict

Mazda MX-5 2005-2015
Mazda's MX-5 has been established for decades as an affordable and enjoyable rear-drive convertible

The Mazda MX-5 is still great fun, and more grown up

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Comments
19

6 January 2012

Considering the investment in the new rear drive structure, I hope Mazda consider using it for other cars in their range (new RX7 / 8 perhaps).

I am glad however they have decided to stick with the rear drive route. They appear to be thinking very clearly at the moment and really listening to what the customer wants.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

6 January 2012

Of course the MX-5 stays rear-wheel drive. It is one of the most driver-focused cars there are out there, and I'm sure the next generation will continue that trend.

6 January 2012

[quote Autocar]The all-new Mazda MX-5 will be based on all-new steel spaceframe [/quote]

Is not the current built on a clever aluminium spaceframe, carried over from the original? If correct, how does replacing it with steel save weight?

6 January 2012

[quote Los Angeles]

[quote Autocar]The all-new Mazda MX-5 will be based on all-new steel spaceframe [/quote]

Is not the current built on a clever aluminium spaceframe, carried over from the original? If correct, how does replacing it with steel save weight?[/quote]

The original was steel chassis / bodied with an aluminium roof frame structure.

That aside, advances in steel technology (variable thickness sections and CAD designed structures) have meant that you can produce equivalent structures stronger and lighter in steel that you can in aluminium.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

6 January 2012

[quote Los Angeles]Is not the current built on a clever aluminium spaceframe, carried over from the original? If correct, how does replacing it with steel save weight?[/quote]Although aluminium is lighter than steel for a given volume it is generally heavier per unit of strength.

There are aluminium alloys with the correct temper that are stronger, per unit of weight, than some low grade steels but mostly steel is lighter plus cheaper and easier to form into light strong structures. But like everything else in life it all depends on the use/cost requirement and that is before taking into account rusting, styling/fashion/marketing.

6 January 2012

The MX5's I've owned have been steel bodied, with an aluminium beam joining the differential housing to the gearbox, effectively a one sided backbone. I'm fascinated by this comment in the editorial "meaning the end for the current weighty 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines ", the engine in the later versions of the MX5 are a slightly inclined derivative of Ford's ( Mazda ) Duratec "world" engine, which is all aluminium, and weight, like for like is little heavier ( less than 5kg ) than the extraordinarily light Rover K series . How that can be described as "weighty" sounds like something written by someone with little or no mechanical experience.

6 January 2012

[quote Ravon]The MX5's I've owned have been steel bodied, with an aluminium beam joining the differential housing to the gearbox, effectively a one sided backbone. I'm fascinated by this comment in the editorial "meaning the end for the current weighty 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines ", the engine in the later versions of the MX5 are a slightly inclined derivative of Ford's ( Mazda ) Duratec "world" engine, which is all aluminium, and weight, like for like is little heavier ( less than 5kg ) than the extraordinarily light Rover K series . How that can be described as "weighty" sounds like something written by someone with little or no mechanical experience.[/quote]

You are right, that engines were not weighty at all! If they want to replace them with a turbocharged 1.5 the powertrain will be probably heavier. The very high torque of todays turbocharged engines require a stronger and so heavier transmission.

6 January 2012

[quote TegTypeR]That aside, advances in steel technology (variable thickness sections and CAD designed structures) have meant that you can produce equivalent structures stronger and lighter in steel that you can in aluminium.[/quote]

Spot on. Actually that's part of my work. The new high grade steels require expensive tooling compared to aluminum so the production volumes have to be quite high but in the end the torsional strength values are outstanding. The feasibility studies of a part are much more complex with high grade steel and not every shape can be obtained stamping but the simulations are now becoming more and more accurate.

6 January 2012

Looks like they are continuing their trend of "don't mess with an icon"

Thank you Mazda. Keep the fun coming.

As for Teg Ravon and Matsoc, thank you too, insightful.

The engineers on the last model were very focused on weight reduction even down to the rear view mirror, if I remember correctly. The little one on Reverse Gear equated it to a bag of crisps did he not?

In a similar vain I do believe Honda was the same with the Integra TypeR.

Thats what I love about these cars, it's all the stuff you can't see.

Back to FWD Sad

7 January 2012

Looking forward to this car alot, the MX5 is a brilliant drive, and good on Mazda for sticking to Rear wheel drive.

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