The 2015 Mazda MX-5’s lightweight chassis has been uncovered at the 2014 New York auto show.
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The fourth-generation drop-top Mazda’s “bare chassis” is still undergoing development prior to the all-new model entering production, but in showcasing the new car’s platform the Japanese brand has illustrated that there will be some change to the formula that has seen the MX-5 become the highest-selling convertible ever, with almost one million units sold in its quarter-century history.

The new Mazda MX-5 retains the front-engine, rear-drive layout of its predecessors, and will retain the current car’s 50:50 weight distribution.

However, for the new model the engine will be mounted closer to the driver and lower down in the car’s high-strength steel structure to help keep its centre of gravity low. The company also says its engineers are “painstakingly researching the optimum position for the driver as one of the development goals” in order to evolve the drive experience, which it calls Jinba Ittai (horse and rider as one).

Mazda claims it set a goal of reducing the weight of the new car by 100 kilograms compared with the current model “while still achieving the highest standards of body rigidity and collision safety performance”. The current model (below) is only available with a hard-top rather than the lighter soft-top option that was previously sold, weighs roughly 1150kg in manual guise, and it is understood that the brand is targeting a base weight of 990kg for the new car. It’s not yet clear whether Mazda will offer both hard- and soft-top versions of the new car.

Mazda MX-5-8

Unlike the previous generational changes that saw the dimensions of the MX-5 increase each time, the new version is expected to be shorter than the car it replaces, with Mazda describing the chassis as being “ the most compact configuration of any generation of the MX-5”.

The brand hasn’t revealed any specifications of the new model’s engine, but as with the current car the powerplant will be longitudinally mounted. Reports suggest a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre Skyactiv four-cylinder engine, along with a gruntier 2.0-litre Skyactiv with outputs of about 135kW and a reported performance target of 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

Mazda MX-5 program manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto said in a statement that both himself and the brand aren’t taking the task of replacing the current model, which has been on sale for almost a decade, lightly.

“I am both profoundly appreciative and keenly aware of the great responsibility I bear,” Yamamoto said.

“That is why I feel a duty to further evolve the MX-5, to keep it as a lightweight sports car that anyone can enjoy, while continuing to meet the demands of society that are much greater than they were 25 years ago. ‘Innovate in order to preserve the ideal’. This is our duty as the developer, and at the same time it’s an exciting dream, a source of happiness, and something we are proud of."

Timing for the reveal of the new-generation MX-5 is currently unknown, but CarAdvice believes it could debut at the 2014 Los Angeles motor show in late November.

The skeletal precursor to the all-new Mazda MX-5 due in 2015 was revealed alongside a 25

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Anniversary Edition model of the current car, which features unique styling and engine enhancements, and will go on sale in limited numbers later this year.