Although of the same capacity as the new Mazda 2, the engine in the MX-5 will be “heavily remodelled” according to Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak, and of course positioned north-south in the engine bay for drive to the rear wheels as opposed to the east-west configuration that is used to power the fronts in the 2.
Mazda has said the MX-5 engine will run “ultra-high compression” with split twin exhausts, where the Mazda 2 has a 13.0:1 compression ratio, produces 81kW of power and 142Nm of torque and gets only a single exhaust.
Mazda has confirmed that both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be available.
In accordance with a 100-kilogram kerb weight drop compared with the outgoing MX-5, and if the engine can deliver around 100kW and 160Nm, the circa-1000kg two-seat roadster should be able to reach 100km/h in about 8.0 seconds.
It is all-but certain that a larger 2.0-litre engine will be available, aimed primarily at the North American market - meaning a potential Los Angeles motor show debut. However, Mazda executives remained tight-lipped when asked the question about a bigger engine, which would also be an ideal fit for our performance-hungry market.
“We haven’t confirmed any other powertrain,” said Mazda Australia public relations senior manager Steve Maciver.
“The only thing communicated so far is that that car [at the Paris motor show] is a 1.5 … there are no power outputs. At this stage there’s a 1.5 and that’s all that’s been announced.”
If a 2.0-litre engine has about 140kW and 210Nm, it could better the circa-7.8 second 0-100km/h time of the previous model in the smaller, lighter new MX-5.
Likewise it is also assured that the 1.5-litre engine will help Mazda Australia get the entry MX-5 price tag of less than $40,000 when it arrives in the second half of 2015.
“We’ve always tried to maximise value and that doesn’t change," Doak said. "And just because it’s MX-5 doesn’t make it more or less important than any of the other cars. It’s an ongoing proposition with all of our cars. We’ll offer value.”
Doak said a re-priced MX-5 wouldn’t be the only reason for an expected increase in popularity, however, nominating styling and awareness as other key factors.
“We’ve done some research and there’s a lot of people that aren’t even aware of MX-5 because we haven’t done anything with it for a few years, so that’s a big opportunity for us to start talking about it again.”