NEW YORK—Mazda celebrated 25 years of the iconic Miata roadster by offering enthusiasts a glimpse of the future on Wednesday at the New York auto show.
Mazda revealed few details, but showed off the next-generation, aluminum-intensive chassis which will underpin the upcoming MX-5 Miata (as well as an Italian sibling that could be badged Abarth). The sports car will remain front-engine and rear-wheel drive, and it is expected to shed nearly 220 pounds compared with today's Miata. Based on a 2014 Mazda Miata Sport, that could push the new car's weight as low as 2260 pounds. The chassis cutaway on display also shows the car will continue to use a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission.
Mazda called it a “SkyActiv” chassis, which is the name the company uses to describe its lightweight, efficient powertrain technologies. SkyActiv underpins the existing Mazda 3, 6, and CX-5. Like today's car, the next-gen Mazda Miata will use an updated double wishbone front suspension and a multilink rear setup, says senior vice president of U.S. operations, Robert Davis.
“The real magic is this chassis,” he says. “That's how it drives, how it feels, and how the car is defined.”
The company has sold more than 900,000 Miatas since 1989, and about one-third of the sales have been in the U.S. market.
Mazda paid serious attention to weight reduction, since it had to add modern safety features which could have added to the curb weight. The next-gen Mazda Miata actually loses about 350 pounds compared with today's car, when factoring in compensating for the extra equipment, Davis says. That means every part, including the dashboard pieces, the wheels, and the lights, were all designed to be as light as possible.
“There's a tremendous focus on the details of this car,” Davis says.
Naturally, Mazda enthusiasts can't get enough of all of this, a fact the company chairman acknowledged in New York. “MX-5 fans are among the most passionate in the automotive world,” Takashi Yamanouchi told the crowd.