By on April 16, 2014



Those wild rumors of Mazda doing a surprise debut of the next MX-5 turned out to be false – anyone with an understanding of modern automotive PR tactics knows that no launch is conducted without a relentless hype campaign. But at least they threw us a bone.

Mazda claims that this chassis, which underpins the next MX-5, will shed 220 lbs from the weight of the current car (which weighs in at around 2480 lbs), with an engine that sits lower and further back. The lighter weight, which is closer to that of the first-gen Miata, and the power bump from the new Skyactiv engine (assuming it’s the 2.0L 155 horsepower engine used in multiple cars) means the power-to-weight ratio should up in an appreciable manner.

For those who still want the current car (and judging by the sales figures, there’s not too many of you), Mazda has launched a new 25th anniversary edition of the MX-5. Only 100 units will be made available, in a special red-on-black paint scheme, with special alloy wheels and Bilstein dampers as standard.

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18 Comments on “New York 2014: Mazda Shows Next MX-5’s Chassis...”

  • avatar

    It sounds like they said the *chassis* would save 220 lbs., not the whole car. I would expect a lot of that savings to be given up to new safety equipment and other bits and bobs.

    From Autocar: “Mazda claims that the structure of the new model ‘has been engineered and developed to achieve outstanding body rigidity and crashworthiness, while also reducing the overall weight by more than 100kg.\'”

    I still think this might be a structural savings, not an end-product savings. We have seen light weight chassis before, but the cars often end up weighing a similar amount to the previous generation.

    • 0 avatar

      Overall weight would suggest a 100kg/220 lb reduction, no?

      • 0 avatar

        We shall see. It looks very carefully worded to me. In that sentence, it could mean “overall weight [of the structure]”. Like the 4C, the Miata might also gain weight for the US market.

        If they manage it here, I will be seriously impressed. Fingers crossed.

    • 0 avatar

      It definitely sounds like they’re talking about chassis weight reduction, which isn’t necessarily indicative of the weight of the whole car.

      However, Mazda has a decades-long history of doing a very good job of avoiding model bloat, despite the advances in rigidity, crash standards and performance benchmarks since the first Miata in 1989 (about 2100 lbs for the original 115 hp car vs. <2500 for today's 170 hp model). If they managed to cut 220 lbs on what was already a respectable chassis, I wouldn't put it past them to be able to hold the line on the weight of the rest of the car. It doesn't look like they've changed the fundamentals of the chassis, either; it's still got front double-wishbones, rear multilink suspension, with both ends connected by a power plant frame, like the current car does. My guess is that a chunk of the weight savings comes from a lighter engine.

      • 0 avatar

        2nd’d. I am reminded of the Top Gear review of the last gen where Hammond talks about the work they put into lightening the Rearview Mirror.

        It takes a LOT of corporate resistance to break nerdiness like that, and it sounds like that hasn’t happened yet.

    • 0 avatar

      Front double wishbones, YEAH!

  • avatar

    Help me out here. The current MZR in the NC Miata is rated at 170hp. How is a 155hp Skyactive a power bump?

    • 0 avatar

      They’re comparing to the original Miata.

    • 0 avatar

      Less weight = needing less horsepower for equal or greater performance = more horsepower per pound = the new MX5 technically having a ” power ” bump [ in comparison to the old one’s weight vs hp ]

      Its all math and numbers … which are never as straight forward as far too many think it is

      As well as .. lets be honest here … a fair amount of marketing Hype & Hyperbole

    • 0 avatar

      The standard MZR 2.0L made 148-150hp in the Mazda3; the Miata version was tweaked for some more horsepower. Hopefully they will do the same with the Skyactiv.

    • 0 avatar

      I think they are talking about a bump in power within the SkyActiv engine line. In other words, the previous SkyActiv 2.0 was not as powerful as the SkyActiv 2.0 being installed in the next Miata.

      The current Miata uses the 167hp MZR engine, which makes the wording in the article confusing.

  • avatar

    Is it just me or is this new MX5 chassis looking a whole lot like the old Lotus Elan etc wishbone chassis of old ?

    Hmmmn . First the looks and the original intent of the classic Lotus Elan . And now the chassis as well ?

    Am I complaining though ? Why no I am not !

    How could I possibly complain about an updated – more reliable – better built – and better serviced Elan for the 21st century ? Minus all the hassles of dealing with Lotus .. past or present I might add !

    Why …. like the original MX5/Miata … well …. I can not … complain in the slightest that is .

    So now lets see if the body/interior/engine/performance and handling all live up to the somewhat copied Lotus style wishbone chassis they’ve previewed today .

    Do it right Mazda ! Or else !

    • 0 avatar

      Dig out your old magazines from 1989. The Miata’s drivetrain/integral sheet metal tunnel was identical in concept.

      The Elan had a backbone chassis that was not rigidly attached to the drivetrain.

      LJKS would never have made such elementary errors.

      • 0 avatar

        While the Miata’s styling was based on that of the Elan, something Tom Matano, who designed the original Miata, acknowledges, it was the Toyota 2000GT that copied the Elan’s chassis and suspension, including the Chapman struts in the back.

        Lotus never used an engine as a structural component in a road car but they were one of the first race car constructors to use the engine as a stressed chassis member. The Cosworth Ford DFV that Chapman convinced FoMoCo to underwrite, was specifically engineered to serve that purpose.

        I wonder how much stiffness the Miata’s body adds to the finished car. If I remember the story about the Elan correctly, after having made the revolutionary Elite which had a GFRP composite monocoque but was expensive to make, Colin Chapman decided to go with a separate backbone chassis for the Elan, made up of folded and welded sheet metal. The original plan was for the one piece fiberglass body (actually made from two halves bonded together) to be structural, but after they finished the chassis and measured the stiffness they found that the chassis alone exceeded the total stiffness they were aiming for.

        • 0 avatar

          While it does have a power plant frame, the Miata is a unibody car, so basically all the stiffness in the car comes from the body. The main purpose of the PPF is just to connect the differential to the transmission and resist drive shaft twisting forces. The “chassis” shown here (also known sometimes as the “roller skate”) is simply the front and rear subframes connected by the PPF. You can see how, without the body installed, the tops of the coilover shocks (they’re often mistakenly referred to, even by auto journos, as struts, but they’re not) don’t actually mount to anything, and if I’m not mistaken, the whole roller skate, as it sits in the photo in this article, should slump to the ground.

          While the current car is said to be much stiffer, the original NA and subsequent NB, which use the same basic setup, are very flexible cars with noticeable cowl shake by today’s standards. I’ve got an underbody “butterfly” brace on my ’99, which reinforces the rocker rails and transmission tunnel, and it’s still far from rigid. People say that even the plastic hardtop does quite a bit to reduce the flex in the body when it’s installed.

          • 0 avatar

            Yep. My ’95 NA has a lot of cowl shake, and being stock has a bit more reinforcement than the first cars and a lot less than your modded ’99. I’m planning to stiffen it a bit with some aftermarket suspension and chassis goodies, but not too much considering the extra weight will negatively affect the already meager power on offer.

  • avatar

    Biggest problem with current sales in a niche car like this is the fact that the buyers are informed.

    been waiting on the sidelines for the new model, its been what? 4 or 5 years. Every year the hype of redesign, makes me hold off.

    How can I be a buyer today, with keywords thrown around like:

    totally new

    They got to discount the hell out of the current models blow them out, then not sell anything maybe for a year- dry the market up of new stock and then really launch.

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