Next gen sports icon to be leanest and meanest ever.
The next generation of Mazda's iconic MX-5 sports car is going on a strict diet that should see its weight drop below one tonne for the first time since the first generation debuted in 1989.
Combined with the latest Skyactiv engine technology, Mazda is predicting the next MX-5 will set a new power-to-weight ratio benchmark for the car when it goes on-sale in 2012 or '13.
Speaking to Drive on the eve of the Tokyo motor show, Mazda research and development boss Hirotaka Kanazawa, confirmed the radical plan for the fourth generation rear-wheel drive two-seat drop-top.
"For the next MX-5 we would like to go back to its origins, which is light weight sports," he said via an interpreter.
"So the power is not so much, but it is very easy to handle and it gives driving pleasure. We want to make that kind of MX-5."
Kanazawa rejected suggestions that the MX-5 would feature a turbocharged version of the new Skyactiv petrol engine family. So far, all Skyactiv petrol engines have been naturally-aspirated.
"We'd like to develop next MX-5 that is very easy to use and that is a strength of our Skyactiv naturally-aspirated engine, so we want to capitalise on that easy to use area," he said.
The original MX-5 weighed in at 940kg when it debuted in 1989. The second generation climbed to 1065kg and the current car grew further to 1095kg (each successive generation has also been bigger).
Dropping the MX-5 back below one tonne ties in perfectly with Mazda's strategy of chopping roughly 100kg out of all its forthcoming models.
"We do our best to lower the weight as much as possible," Kanazawa said of the next MX-5. "We want to go under 1000kg."
The logical engine for the light-weight MX-5 would be the Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre petrol engine that has debuted this year in the updated Mazda3 and all-new CX-5. Running on premium unleaded, the 2.0-litre produces 121kW of power, although Australian versions are tuned to run on regular unleaded, lowering power to 113kW. In the CX-5, fitted with the proper ancillaries, it produces 114kW and 196Nm. The current MX-5's 2.0 makes 118kW and 188Nm.
If the plan comes together the result would be the naturally-aspirated MX-5 with the best-ever power-to-weight ratio, as Kanazawa confirmed: "That is the ambition," he said.
Kanazawa said he was confident such a light-weight car could still meet modern crash requirements thanks to chassis and body structure lessons learned during the development of the CX-5, including the use of ultra-high tensile steel.
Happily for MX-5 customers who like some luxuries he also confirmed the composite folding roof would continue on in the next generation alongside the traditional cloth top.