2016 Mazda MX-5 steps on the 2014 Paris Motor Show catwalk [Live Photos]

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 2, 2014

Mazda presented its all-new 2016 MX-5 at the Paris Motor Show, 25 years after the original MX-5 was unveiled back in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show. As you may know already the new model made its debut last month at company’s new facility the ‘Mazda Space’ in Barcelona and arrives with a new KODO – Soul of Motion design for the exterior characterized by the longer bonnet, the well-known grille and stylish rear end that features LED taillights.

Compared with the predecessor, the new generation MX-5 is 100 kg (220 lbs) lighter and comes with electric power-assited rack and pinion steering. Mazda will offer the MX-5 in Europe with a Skyactiv-G 1.5-liter petrol engine bolted to a six-speed manual transmission.

In the United States, the MX-5 will get a bigger 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G engine, but no details were released regarding the outputs. Rumors indicate that the 1.5-liter engine will deliver 140 hp (104 kW), while the 2.0-liter will develop up to 200 hp (149 kW). Mazda’s new MX-5 roadster will go on sale next year as a 2016 model year.

Powertrain

The new MY2016 MX-5 is powered by any of the two new specially tuned direct-injection gasoline engines: the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 or SKYACTIV-G 2.0. Power is sent from the engine to the wheels through the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual gearbox that is specifically tailored for the car’s classic front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive (FMR) layout.

Both the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 and the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 have something in common with other naturally aspirated engines equipped in other new generation Mazda models. These common features include piston cavities, multi-hole injectors, high tumble ports, dual sequential valve timing and others.

However, most of the components of the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 were modified just to fit the MX-5's layout and size and to gain more output while cutting weight. Likewise, the modifications resulted to light and immediate response to accelerator pedal input.

Some of these modifications are the revisions of the cam timing and rotating parts, which hiked the SKYACTIV-G 1.5's allowable max rev to 7,500rpm. Also, Mazda added a custom steel crankshaft for supporting the engine's free-revving nature.

The carmaker also increased the maximum power output of the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 to 96kW/131PS at 7,000rpm and 150Nm of peak torque at 4,800rpm, making it more powerful than a similar engine equipped on the front-wheel drive Mazdas.

Those numbers were simply higher than what the MZR 1.8 – fitted on the current MX-5 – can offer. Aside from that, the SKYACTIV-G 1.5 also returns better fuel economy numbers than the larger MZR 1.8.

On the other hand, the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 has been tuned for more low and mid-range torque, which means acceleration and mileage figures better than the MZR 2.0. The SKYACTIV-G 2.0 develops up to 118kW/160PS of output at 6,000rpm and up to 200Nm of torque at 4,600rpm.

To optimize the power potential of the new SKYACTIV engines, Mazda fitted them with new lighter and more compact intake and exhaust systems. In fact, the intake system is around 30 percent lighter than that found in the outgoing MX-5.

It is also much better in a sense that it considerably reduces airflow resistance while removing exhaust heat for greater sustained intake efficiency. Also featured in the SKYACTIV-G engines is the 4-2-1 exhaust manifold, which was redesigned to fit better in the RWD layout and to achieve an ideal torque curve as well as a pleasing engine sound.

Likewise, Mazda made the MX-5’s radiator much smaller and lighter, even endowing it with air ducts and flaps for regulating air pressure from the fan. The carmaker also repositioned the radiator closer to MX-5’s center of gravity to optimize weight distribution in the engine compartment, thereby improving the vehicle’s vaunted agility, durability and NVH.

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