Next-generation Mazda MX-5 to receive a turbocharged 1.3-litre SkyActiv engine

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 3, 2011

It’s likely that when the next-generation Mazda MX-5 starts selling in 2014, it will be equipped with a turbocharged version of the 1.3-litre, four cylinder SkyActiv petrol engine. The next Mazda MX-5 will come with the smaller direct-injection turbo unit rather than the current model’s normally aspirated 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines.

It will get variable cam phasing, lighter, low-friction reciprocating parts, and maybe even a new exhaust manifold design that offers an exhaust gas evacuation that’s more effective. Its transmission will be lighter and its friction will be reduced as Mazda attempts to give the manual shift action the same level of mechanical precision and short throw as the original model.

It’s also likely to have a very efficient paddle-shift torque-converter auto, with a lock-up clutch. The next MX-5 will use a new rear-wheel drive SkyActiv platform that will be dubbed the S-platform. Mazda is hoping for the two-seater to revert to its original agile sports car concept and to accomplish that, it is relying on lightweight engineering.

A source said that Mazda’s engineers were asked to take off 275kg from the 1075kg ‘empty’ kerb weight of the current MX-5 to achieve a total weight of 800kg. This is believed to be a major step forward for a volume-production sports car. The MX-5 was at its leanest when it debuted in 1989 with a weight of 955kg. This was a time before crash testing was done and companies raised the weight with the use of heavy body structures, side-impact bars and airbags, and extensive, luxury specs that were standard.

The third reiteration of the Mazda MX-5 is out with a lighter but harder body shell than its predecessor. Following Mazda’s tradition, this version’s body has very high resistance to bending and twisting, but is very light. The weight is also evenly distributed. It also has the same weight and the twin-wishbone front as the second generation. Another familiar thing that you could see here is the multi-link rear suspension systems and the fact that the engine is placed behind the front axle. The new MX-5 remains to be a rear-wheel drive that has the power plant frame located within the transmission tunnel.

This configuration makes a solid connection between the rear differential and the transmission that helps support the chassis and reduce deformation even on sporty drives. The 2.0-L versions that have manual transmission feature the limited slip differential that gives the Mazda MX-5 the best traction no matter what the road conditions are.

For the redesign, the engineers of the Japanese automaker changed the front suspension by revising the vertical pivot position of the ball joints. This helped reduce the front roll’s height by 26 millimeters, which in turn reduces the fluctuations when you are cornering and the roll movement is more linear. Research and development groups further refined the suspension settings to make sure that the MX-5 is more precise in reacting to the driver’s inputs. This made the roll and yaw feel natural. These changes gives you a 'Jinba Ittai' feeling, which is more pronounced when you are cornering.

The new MX-5 has the MZR 2.0-L and has a 6-speed manual transmission. It also has a sports suspension that features the Bilstein rear and front dampers.

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