Anatomy Of A Rumor: There Won't Be A Diesel MX-5

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
anatomy of a rumor there wont be a diesel mx 5

God bless the blogosphere. All it takes is one throwaway remark for something to become a widely reported rumor heard ’round the world.

Autocar, a UK magazine that is fond of publishing sketches, conjecture and other wild-ass rumors in the best tradition of Fleet Street, published another piece on the upcoming Mazda MX-5 that included this paragraph

A diesel option is being considered, but the lightweight and high-revving capabilities of a petrol engine are more desirable to Mazda. There are also concerns over the market viability of a small diesel roadster, which might prove difficult to sell.

And that should be it, right? Autocar themselves basically debunked this ridiculous notion. Nope! Not wanting to be left behind in the race to [s]the bottom[/s] to “get it first” the blogs picked it up en masse and reported it as fact. A Google search for “MX-5 Diesel” returns 2,200 results, which is 2,200 too many.

It should be obvious that this rumor is absolute bovine manure. A diesel engine is heavier than a gasoline engines, does not rev as freely and has a completely different character. It is everything that Mazda does not want in a lightweight sports car. Aside from the characteristics of the engine itself, the car would have to be engineered to carry a much heavier engine from the get-go, something that would have a negative impact on weight and handling targets.

A diesel may have been briefly considered at some point in the development process, but believe me, it is not happening. If it does, we won’t see it in North America. We’re more likely to see an army of automotive bloggers who aren’t ruled by the all-mighty click before we see an oil-burning MX-5.

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9 of 29 comments
  • Canadian_driver Canadian_driver on May 09, 2013

    I am surprised Derek was so easily drawn in by the old thinking on diesel. "A diesel engine is heavier than a gasoline engines, does not rev as freely and has a completely different character." The current (and last) generation of the VW Jetta have had the SAME weight between the N/A motor (2.5L) and the diesel (2.0L). The Turbo 2.0L Petrol weighing in at almost 60kg HEAVIER. Darn those heavy diesels and their torque-y ways!!! Europe has had diesel convertibles for while now ( so why shouldn't Mazda go that route? It is not like the current Miata has a massive power output that putting a diesel in it would be a handy cap. The current Miata (Mx-5) only has 170hp and 140lbs-ft, earlier versions barely had 140hp. Imagine an MX-5 with 200-300lbs-ft of torque but a similar weight to the current car. So it does not rev as high, most driving is done in the lower revs anyway... why not have the power where people are likely to USE IT? I mean people who actually buy Miatas, not internet trolls who cry blue murder at the mere thought of changing a car they have never owned, nor would, because it is a "hair dressers car".

    • See 5 previous
    • Juicy sushi Juicy sushi on May 10, 2013

      @redav I remember reading it in a UK review, but haven't been able to find it since. I did notice on Honestjohn's website that the gross weight listed for the equivalent diesel is 100kg or so more than the equivalent gas model. (1935kg vs 2055kg for SE Hatchback models)

  • Tosh Tosh on May 09, 2013

    I happen to know the diesel rumor is just a smokescreen for the shooting brake Miata they're working on.

    • Redav Redav on May 09, 2013

      Don't be silly. They're putting a rotary in the Miata.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?