Next-generation Mazda MX-5 will remain a rear-wheel drive sports car

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 11, 2012

Mazda had considered switching to front-drive but it didn’t want to alienate its current customers and so it invested in the new compact rear-drive platform. This is why the all-new Mazda MX-5 will have an all-new steel spaceframe architecture, which was built under Mazda’s Sky Activ umbrella. This rear-drive architecture is referred to within the company as S-Platform.

With this structure, Mazda could then achieve a kerb weight of less than 1000kg. This means that its weight has been reduced by 15% when compared to the current lightest MX-5, the soft-top 1.8i SE model.

Compared to the past two generations, the MX-5 has become larger and heavier. Mazda wants this model to go back to being a lightweight and an agile two-seater that offers enjoyable driving. The current 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines that are heavy would be pushed out by the new MX-5’s powertrains, which are optimized by the car’s lightness.

A source from Mazda engineering said that the company wants smaller, naturally aspirated, engines to power the new model because they offer a competitive power-to-weight ratio. The entry-level engine is expected to be a new direct-injection 1.5-litre Sky Activ petrol unit, which has an output of around 130bhp.

It isn’t confirmed yet but some sources say that a more robust, turbocharged, 1.5-litre engine will be offered. Mazda will also be offering lightweight SkyActiv transmissions. To save weight, Mazda will install lightweight speakers and will put in a simple cabin storage bin in place of a glovebox.

Buyers can choose between a soft-top and a folding hardtop configuration for the new MX-5. It was initially planned to be launched in 2013 but this has been delayed to take place sometime in the middle of the decade. At the Geneva motor show this March, Mazda will unveil a slightly revised version of the current MX-5.

Mazda's next-generation design DNA is well-conveyed by the revised Mazda MX-5. This is particularly evident on the more aggressive and more aerodynamic single front fascia bumper. Mazda’s five-point grille is now flanked by newly designed headlamps that are now slanting inward towards the peak of the grille. In addition, the inner lenses of the turn indicator lamps are now in white.

The face-lifted Mazda MX-5 is now fitted with new triangular fog lamp bezels at the lower edges of the integrated bumper – now carefully embedded in the fascia surface with thick framing. Meanwhile, the sides of the MX-5 facelift feature more sculptured new side sills and garnishes, forming strong character lines that emphasize the rear wheel wells – all giving the car a sportier look.

On the other hand, the facelift is marked by a distinctive Mazda MX-5 rear end, which now dons several subtle design revisions for a stronger look. In addition, the rear bumper of the MX-5 facelift – now more integrated into the body -- slants upward and inward to be flush with the bottom of the tail-lamps, thereby emphasizing the thickness of the bumper.

Just like on the front, the fenders on the rear end feature a lower portion that is now more sculptured and extended downward. Furthermore, the MX-5 facelift is provided with new rear combination lamps that feature a sparking 'U' shape when illuminated by headlamps of vehicles at the back.

Interestingly, the Mazda MX-5 facelift is specified with new body features that help achieve high speed stability, like its more protruding lower grille lip; the extended area below the front fog lamps with optimized shapes and wider front tire deflectors.

The Mazda MX-5 facelift also features side mirrors that have been optimized for low wind drag as well as new side sills that render the sides of the car wider to allow less wind to strike the rear wheels. In addition, the new rear lamps of the Mazda MX-5 facelift extend outward to allow less turbulence on the rear.

Customers could choose from seven available body colors, including Brilliant Black, Copper Red Mica, Marble White, Stormy Blue Mica and True Red, as well as two new colors -- Aluminum Metallic and Metropolitan Grey Mica. Aluminum Metallic contains aluminum particles that could diffuse light and even cause various types of reflections and shadow.

Topics: mazda, mazda mx-5, rwd

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