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by Jay Traugott
Lighter, improved fuel efficiency, and more powerful: The next MX-5 is due to arrive in 2014.
We've been hearing more rumors lately regarding the next generation Mazda MX-5. Yes, some still and will always call it the Miata, but Mazda officially changed the name some time ago. Fortunately, the Japanese automaker is not only committed to continuing the model (whatever they call it), but they're focusing on bringing it back to its lightweight roots while still improving performance and fuel economy. And this will require some truly innovative engineering.
Since the Miata (sorry, we mean MX-5) first premiered back in 1989, the hot-selling two-seat roadster has consistently been at the top of numerous lists for its fantastic handling and affordability. The current and third generation model debuted in 2006, so it's very much due for a complete redesign. Thing is, each subsequent generation has become a bit larger and heavier than the previous one and Mazda is on a quest to reverse that course. According to a new report from Road & Track, company sources have claimed they've recently "hit a snag" and it all has to do with power.
The problem apparently lies with their 1.5-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four with SkyActiv technology. Engineers weren't able to get enough horsepower from this engine in order to meet expectations. They then considered using a variant of the current 2.0-liter inline-four, but that failed to meet fuel economy numbers. It now appears the company has narrowed their options down to either a 1.8-liter inline-four with SkyActiv or even a 1.3- or 1.5-liter inline-four with forced induction. The end goal is for the new MX-5 to achieve around 150hp with a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy over the current model.
Mazda engineers are also focusing much of their attention on weight, with the ultimate goal of reducing the car's mass to 2,200 lbs. or less. This means they need to cut 200 lbs. from the current car all the while maintaining its exterior dimensions and $25,000 base price. This all must be done for the 2014 model year. Yes, time is short and with a model as important as the MX-5, it's vital for Mazda to get this right. Photos displayed are of the Mazda MX-5 Superlight Concept and the 2009 MX-5.