Mazda’s next-generation MX-5 roadster is set to adopt principles from the RX-8, in a bid to trump the current car’s kerb weight and balance, according to well placed sources in Japan.
The new car, scheduled to appear at next year’s Tokyo motor show, will use layout ideas first previewed by the Ibuki (pictured), a concept that was revealed at the same event in 2003. That show car was believed to be a preview for the current MX-5 and little else — particularly since it used the RX-8’s twin-backbone frame.
But a Mazda insider has told Autocar that the next MX-5 will use a revised version of that construction, and build on the RX-8’s philosophy to adopt a “super front-midship four-cylinder layout”. That means placing the powerplant behind the front axle for optimum weight distribution, and mounting the fuel tank and main exhaust in front of the rear axle, so all critical components sit inside the wheelbase.
By employing a revised version of the twin-backbone frame, Mazda engineers believe they can deliver an open-top car with the chassis rigidity of a regular coupé. The firm has been patenting elements of the Ibuki’s construction in the US and Japan in recent months.
One Mazda engineer said, “The Ibuki was not a one-off future concept car. It contains crucial aspects of the next-generation roadster.”
It’s unlikely to influence its styling directly, however; instead, the new MX-5 will incorporate elements from the Shinari concept that was revealed in Milan in August. Power for the next MX-5 is likely to come from one of Mazda’s all-new Skyactiv powerplants. “It’ll probably be a 1.5 litre,” said our source. That should be enough for sprightly performance, given that the car is on track to weigh less than 1000kg.
Takao Kijima, the man behind the second and third generations of the iconic roadster, said, “The MX-5 must always be lightweight sports. The car has got bigger and heavier over the past decade, but it’s now time to reverse the process and get back to basics.”