Slimline MX-5 trips the light fantastic

7 Aug, 2009 4:45pm

Roadster celebrates 20 years of the MX-5 with pared-down styling showcasing latest technology and design

It’s back to basics for Mazda’s famous sports car.

The Japanese firm has revealed that it will be premiering a lightweight version of its best-selling MX-5 roadster at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

Dubbed the MX-5 Superlight, the concept machine celebrates 20 years of the model’s success with an open-topped, no-frills design focusing on affordable driving fun. Created by Mazda’s styling studio in Oberursel, Germany, the two-seater has been pared back to the bare essentials, using a similar philosophy to the Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss.

As these official pictures demonstrate, the Superlight concept is a roofless speedster which offers zero protection from the elements. The lack of screen or even wind deflectors shaves precious kilos from the MX’5’s kerbweight.

The cabin is a race-inspired affair which is in keeping with the radical exterior. Leather-wrapped Sparco bucket seats show off the car’s sporting pretensions, while materials such as wood and carbon fibre give the stripped-out interior a sense of occasion. There’s even a beautifully crafted floating iPod dock behind the gearlever, which adds a dash of the future to a design that borrows heavily from racing cars of the past.

A spiritual successor to the dramatic Renaultsport Spyder, the Superlight concept is claimed to take the lightweight nature of the MX-5 to a whole new level, proving exactly what is possible with modern materials.

Saving weight is nothing new for Mazda, either: thanks to its ‘gram-strategy’, every fresh model is now lighter than the car it replaces – and it is the only manufacturer to do this.

Engine output has yet to be revealed. However, the radical weight loss alone will improve performance beyond recognition, even with the regular 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol units. Options open to engineers include fitting the 2.3-litre turbo from the latest Mazda 3 MPS, with up to 260bhp channelled through the rear tyres.

However, lightweight construction isn’t all about boosting performance. The firm is keen to stress the fuel saving and emission reductions possible with a lighter car, as well as dropping a big hint that this is the direction it foresees for sports models of the future. More details will be announced early next month, ahead of the car’s Frankfurt debut.

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