2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata SkyActiv chassis, 2014 New York Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
It's been 25 years since the Mazda MX-5 Miata sports car was unveiled at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, but Mazda has chosen to celebrate the model at this year's New York Auto Show. It has done so by bringing at least part of the next-generation vehicle along to tease enthusiasts. That part is Mazda's new SkyActiv chassis, a light-weight, rear-drive platform set to underpin the fourth-gen 'ND' MX-5 due in early 2015, as a 2016 model.
It's a message of intent from Mazda: The new car's mission is to bring the 2016 MX-5 back to its light-weight, compact roots. While the current car is no heavyweight by modern standards, it's long since climbed above the original car's curb weight, and its footprint has grown to accommodate modern safety features and larger engines.
The SkyActiv chassis will help deliver a weight-loss goal of 220 pounds in the new car, bringing some models towards the magic 2,200-lb figure. Despite the weight-loss program, achieved through redesigned suspension and joining techniques, safety and rigidity have improved in line with modern standards. It will keep the current car's front-midship layout--where the engine largely sits behind the front axle, rather than over it--and Mazda also says it offers the lowest center of gravity yet in an MX-5.
Mazda's image shows a return of the famed 'power plant frame' between the gearbox and rear axle, which prevents twisting forces from upsetting the car's geometry under acceleration and deceleration. Also visible is the car's multi-link rear suspension and double-wishbone front setup, while one of the expected four-cylinder powerplants is also visible. The 2016 MX-5 is expected to offer 1.5 and 2.0-liter engines, both using Mazda's highly efficient SkyActiv technology.
Little is known about the car's styling, other than recent insider information that claims all existing renders of the car are "vastly wrong". It's expected to use a new take on Mazda's current Kodo design language, and Mazda's design chief Peter Birtwhistle has previously said the car will have an "edgier" look than the current car, a derivation of the softer-looking early Miatas. Mazda will release more information on the new MX-5 at a later date.