The next Mazda MX-5 will be smaller and lighter than the current car in an attempt to replicate the spirit of the original, according to Mazda insiders.
The firm’s R&D team is working on making the new car as light and compact as the first MX-5, which was launched 20 years ago. A Mazda source described the current car as “just too heavy”; with a 2.0-litre engine its kerb weight is 1098kg, compared with the original’s 970kg.
So engineers are targeting a kerb weight of 1000kg. That would give the new car a figure similar to that of the recent 980kg MX-5 Superlight concept, the first of a series of design studies that will define the direction Mazda will take with the new car.
Much of this weight loss will be achieved through a smaller and lighter engine, likely to copy the original’s 1.6-litre capacity. “We are testing both 1.6 and 1.8-litre engines, which undercut our current 2.0-litre unit but deliver the same 160-170bhp power range,” said our source.
The dimensions of the car’s platform and wheelbase will stay much the same, but Mazda is known to be looking at reducing the front and rear overhangs.
Lightweight construction techniques will also be employed. Mazda is experimenting with using new steel construction methods that enable less metal to be used in its bodyshells. Mazda is also employing the chief engineer of the first MX-5, Takao Kijima, as a special advisor for the new car.
The new MX-5 is due to be unveiled in 2011, possibly at the next Tokyo motor show. Sources suggest that the price could come down, too, to reflect the newMX-5’s more simple appeal.