2009 Mazda MX-5 Superlight Concept
We've been reporting that the next-gen Mazda MX-5 will be smaller and lighter--as light as 2,200 pounds--since last November, so today's news consists mostly of smaller details, centered primarily around the design of the car. Unlike the Superlight concept which presaged the shift back to the roadster's roots, the next-gen car will likely sport the Nagare influence we've seen on several other concepts and production cars.
The latest rumors give us the outlines of one likely possibility for the powertrain, and flesh out some of the rest of the talk. Instead of the naturally-aspirated engines rumored before, the latest from WhatCar? says it may be a 1.5-liter Skyactiv engine that gets the nod, hinting that power output could be at least as high as the current 166-horsepower MX-5, and possibly higher--while still weighing in about 200 pounds less than the current car. Electric power steering is under consideration, according to the report, but may not see production due to difficulties in getting the feel necessary for a sports car. Also, a new date is named: late 2012 as a 2013 year-model.
The Nagare itself was a concept shown at several shows in 2006, its streamlined features and flowing, wave-like details now familiar in the 2010 Mazda3, the 2011 Mazda5, and in elements of other vehicles in the refreshed Mazda lineup. The MX-5 could get an even more Nagare-inspired design, though as one of Mazda's most important models, it will also have to be acceptable to the masses.
For powertrains, there have been previous rumors that the next MX-5 will get 50-plus miles per gallon from one of Mazda's new SKY-G family of direct-injection four-cylinders. The new engine could displace as little as 1.3-liters, though a 1.5-liter will be more likely for U.S. sale. That's 0.1-liters smaller than the original Miata/MX-5, so the new car will need to be light to offer satisfactory performance.
Power for the 1.5-liter SKY-G engine is estimated at 125 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque--a significant step down from the current car's 167 horsepower and 140 pound-feet, but saving 300-350 pounds from the 2010 model's weight could mean the 2012 MX-5 would have only a slight disadvantage in power-to-weight ratio, while improving handling and transitional performance. Larger SKY-G engines are also under development, however, so the next MX-5 could get more power. We've also heard the MX-5 could go rotary or even rotary-hybrid, though we doubt those reports.
On the transmission end, a six-speed manual is expected as standard, while a dual-clutch unit could be available as an option.