The next chapter in the Mazda MX-5 roadster story will open in 2015 with an all new MX-5 that's being being developed in conjunction with Fiat Group. It was originally thought that the Mazda MX-5 would also spawn a new Alfa Romeo Spider but rumours have since suggested that Fiat could use the technology to create an Abarth badged sports car.
The price of the new model has not been announced yet, but don't expect too much movement from the current MX-5's price of around £20,000. The car will be revealed in September ahead of the Paris Motor Show 2014.
Mazda gave us our first insight into the technology that will underpin the all-new fourth-generation MX-5 at the 2014 New York Motor Show but the item on display wasn't the new Mazda MX-5 itself. Instead, the advanced new SKYACTIV-chassis and engine that will form the backbone of the new MX-5 was revealed. Mazda confirmed the engine will be positioned behind the front axle and closer to the car’s centre than ever before, plus the centre of gravity will be lower than previous generations – factors that should improve the handling.
The new chassis has also been engineered for “outstanding body rigidity and crashworthiness”, while the weight has been reduced by more than 100kg through the use of thinner, higher-strength steels. As a result, entry-level soft-top models are expected to weigh less than 1,050kg.
Check out the gallery above to find the first pictures of what will be new Mazda MX-5. The shots show a test mule, which was spotted testing in Michigan.
This test mule pictured is likely to be using the 1750TB engine from the Alfa 4C, which could find its way under the bonnet of the new Alfa Spider. The 1.75-litre four-cylinder engine develops 237bhp and as Alfa engineers are aiming for a sub-1000kg kerbweight, the Spider could have similar performance figures to the 4C. From Mazda's point of view, a hot version of the MX-5, which would rival the Alfa Spider with the 1750TB engine isn’t likely. Mazda’s primary focus at the moment is all about weight saving and reducing CO2 emissions via the SkyActiv technology.
The MX-5 engine range is more likely to include a pair of more economical naturally-aspirated four-cylinder SKYACTIV petrol engines – one a 1.5-litre unit and the other a 2.0-litre, with around 130bhp and 165bhp respectively. A manual gearbox will continue to be offered, with an auto as an option.
Mazda, meanwhile, is also considering fitting the MX-5 with a diesel engine for the first time, but a new 130bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine featuring SkyActiv technology, is expected to be the pick of the bunch.
Mazda has dropped more clues as to how its new MX-5 will look when it is unveiled later in 2014. Chief designer Peter Birtwhistle told Auto Express that it will be more masculine than the current car when we met him at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
Said Birtwhistle: “If I had to describe it in one word, it’d be ‘edgy’. I think it will be a surprise for people.
“It’s a tight edgy little car that is going to appeal to a broader range of people. We know the clichés about the MX-5 as it gets older, but this will position it differently. I think it’ll attract a lot of young guys.”
The car will not share the Mazda family face seen on the Mazda 3 hatchback - it will get a unique design.
“We need to take on some of the flavor of Kodo [Mazda’s design language], but we have to ensure it is identifiable as an MX-5. It is a standalone product for us," said Birtwhistle.
“You sometimes think after three generations let’s start afresh with a clean sheet of paper. But you have a massive customer base who have a connection with the previous car, so you have to tread carefully.”
The venture with Fiat is organised so that the two companies can share the initial investment and boost profits. However, the Fiat model that will use the same technology as the new Mazda MX-5 is not expected until the end of 2015 so the Mazda will get a clear run at the roadster market. An Abarth version of the car has also been rumoured but details of this are just as sketchy. The current MX-5 is known as the MX-5 Miata in North America and the Roadster in Japan.
Besides the basic steel structure, the Mazda MX-5 won’t share very much with the Fiat version. With high-strength steels used throughout, engineers are aiming to strip at least 100kg from the current MX-5’s kerbweight, with 1,050kg the target figure.