The 2013 Mazda MX-5 should be the most thrilling version yet after the company said it was targeting the best power-to-weight ratio yet since the world’s most popular two-seater sports car went on sale in 1989.
Mazda revealed its aim for the fourth-generation MX-5 roadster on the eve of the 2011 Tokyo motor show as the company reiterated its intention to reduce the roadster’s kerb weight to below one tonne.
“For the next-generation MX-5 we would like to go back to its origins – that is a lightweight sports car,” says Mazda’s senior managing executive officer for research and development, Hirotaka Kanazawa.
“Ideally we want to go back to the lightweight origins [of the 1989 car]. The power might not be so much but it is easy to handle so it is fun to drive. We want to make this kind of car with next MX-5.
“Since first-generation MX-5 [the car] has got heavier and heavier – so we want to go back to original. We’ll do our best [to get to 800kg] … [but we certainly] want it to go below 1000kg.”
The current MX-5 gained only 4kg over its predecessor, according to Mazda, after the company embarked on a 'gram by gram' weight-saving strategy to compensate for extra cabin features and enhanced crash-safety integrity for the body.
Kanazawa-san said the company “imagined” the new MX-5 to have the best power to weight ratio yet for the car. The original MX-5 weighed about 940kg and had 85kW, though it's possible the 2013 model - rumoured to get a 1.5-litre petrol 'Skyactiv' engine - could offer less power than today’s 118kW version.
The third-generation MX-5 that went on sale in 2005 is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Mazda suggests its replacement will again be a naturally aspirated unit that forgoes turbocharging.
“When we develop the next MX-5 … we want to capitalise on its ease of us – [and] that is the strength of our [new generation] SkyActiv naturally aspirated engines,” says Kanazawa-san, strongly hinting at the company’s preference for ‘purer’ acceleration that is typically more linear in its delivery than many turbocharged engines.
Mazda is in the process of introducing a range of more economical engines as part of its new suite of efficiency-improving technologies called ‘SkyActiv’. A 1.5-litre petrol 'Skyactiv' engine is rumoured for the new MX-5.
A new variant of the Mazda3 small car, the SP20, was the first Mazda in Australia to feature the SkyActiv features, though the 2012 CX-5 compact SUV will be the company’s first vehicle to be built from the ground up with the technologies
A so-called SkyActiv-Chassis in development is a newly developed strut-front/multilink rear suspension that is stiffer than before as well as being 14 per cent lighter than the previous set-up.
The 2013 Mazda MX-5 looks set to be offered with a choice of cloth or hardtop roof.
“Probably we will do both [fabric and hardtop],” says Kanazawa-san. “Hardtop [roofs are] popular now. But [MX-5’s is currently] made from plastic so it not so heavy.”