Peeling Back the Curtain on the New Miata
But, as one insider revealed to us, the truth is more complex. This topless coupe turns out to be the base for the next-generation MX-5, reportedly slated to make an appearance in concept form at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. Depicted in these illustrations is one artist's impression of what the new roadster is expected to look like.
Our insider says the new roadster will employ the RX-8 philosophy Mazda bills as a "super front midship four-cylinder layout." In Japan-speak, that refers to a four-cylinder engine mounted aft of the front axle for optimum front/rear weight balance. The fuel tank and main exhaust are located forward of the rear axle, meaning that all critical components are situated inside the wheelbase.
By employing a revised version of the RX-8's twin-backbone frame, Mazda is aiming to create a coupe with the chassis rigidity of a closed-top car. Our insider says much of the new car was already featured on the Ibuki, whose specifications and body structure are increasingly appearing in patents in the U.S. and Japan. And we have also seen what Mazda is planning for its next design theme, as witnessed in the Shinari concept car that debuted in August at a Milan workshop. News coming out of Hiroshima suggests that the Shinari contains strategic design elements of future Mazdas, especially the new MX-5. We'll see the Shinari concept at next month's L.A. auto show.
When asked about the relevance of the Ibuki, one Mazda engineer went so far as to say, "The Ibuki is not a one-off future concept car. It contains crucial aspects of the next-generation roadster." He said the R&D team is aiming for a sub-2200-pound curb weight, making it far lighter than the current car. We can also expect to see shorter overhangs and a smaller capacity engine from the all-new SKY engine series, with the 1.5-liter variant mentioned as the car's engine of choice.
Mazda is developing the next car with a combination of weight and power that will take the MX-5 back to its 1989 origins, roots that second- and third-generation MX-5 chief engineer Takao Kijima says "must always be lightweight sports. The car got bigger and heavier over the last decade, but it's now time to reverse the process and get back to basics, and build a coupe that handles like no other."