A smaller and lighter Mazda MX-5 - that's what the next model will be like. According to Mazda insiders, this is an attempt to replicate the spirit of the original launched 20 years ago.
Mazda's R&D team is working on making the new car as light and compact as the first MX-5. The current car was deemed to be too heavy. With a 2.0-litre engine, its kerb weight is 1098kg, compared with the original's 970kg. The target is 1,000kg.
This change would give the new car a figure similar to that of the recent 980kg MX-5 Superlight concept, which was the first of a series of design studies that will indicate the direction Mazda will take with the new car. To take off the weight, the carmaker will likely install a smaller and lighter engine, which is believed to copy the original's 1.6-liter capacity.
The source added that both the 1.6 and 1.8-litre engines are being tested. The company is looking to undercut the current 2.0-litre unit but deliver the same 160-170bhp power range.
Virtually unchanged are the dimensions of the car's platform and wheelbase. However, Mazda is considering whether to reduce the front and rear overhangs.
In addition, lightweight construction techniques will be employed. As far as we can gather, Mazda is experimenting with using new steel construction methods that will lead to less metal being used in its bodyshells.
The chief engineer of the first MX-5, Takao Kijima, is also on board as a special advisor for the new car. The new MX-5 is set to be unveiled in 2011, possibly at the next Tokyo motor show. Sources say that prices might go down too.