The upcoming Mazda MX-5 will use an all-new lightweight platform and will be powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine when it goes on sale next year, a senior engineering source has revealed.

The rear-drive platform has been designed from the ground-up and incorporates learnings from the firm’s SkyActiv programme, specifically with the chassis and body, which underpins its recent model range.

The engine is also a SkyActiv unit, a 1.5-litre normally aspirated powerplant called SkyActiv-G that has just been launched in the new Mazda 3 with outputs of 99bhp and 111lb ft of torque. A 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G engine is also tipped to be launched.

This engine has long been assumed to feature in the new MX-5 in a likely higher state of tune, but the source gave the clearest hint yet that this was fact. 

If the new MX-5 goes on sale in 2015, it will coincide with what would be the 25th anniversary since the original was launched on these shores. Insiders who have seen the final design describe it as “really beautiful”.

Mazda insiders are still debating whether the market is there or not for a compact roadster like the MX-5, but know the car brings huge value to its brand, and equipped with its SkyActiv technology believes it can become a posterchild for its engineering principles.

To achieve economies of scale, the MX-5 is being developed built alongside a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles model, originally announced as an Alfa Romeo.

However, with Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne insistent that any future Alfa would only be built in Italy, the MX-5’s sister model is likely now to wear a Fiat or Abarth badge, something which our source indicates had yet to be fully communicated by Fiat to Mazda.