RAC Cars News


The Next MX-5 is On Its Way

By raccars Published

The Mazda MX-5 is one of those rare cars that's almost above criticism: it's not the fastest, nor the smoothest nor the most elegant. However it has always been good looking, great value for money and auto fans are in almost unanimous agreement that it is pant wettingly entertaining to drive.

Mazda has sold heaps of the last three generations of MX-5 and the fourth model is currently under development in a joint venture with Alfa Romeo. The Japanese and Italian firms are pooling resources in what would seem to be a most sensible marriage, as Alfa's MX-5 counterpart, the Spider, was a lower profile but similarly grin inducing car, that sold in surprisingly small numbers for such a gorgeous piece of auto design, before being shelved in 1993. Both are now ripe for a relaunch.

Reports suggest the two vehicles will look very different on the outside but aim to retain the sense of fun that has characterised their names to date. Initial images show the MX-5 displaying Mazda's current range wide 'Kodo' design language with a substantial, shield shaped front grille and narrow eyed headlamps and subtly curving flanks. Images show a sleek but muscular silhouette that should please existing MX-5 fans and pick up a few new ones.

Along with its characteristic feel behind the wheel it plans to stay accessibly priced at under £20,000. After a series of roadsters that have grown progressively bigger and heavier with each new incarnation, the next Mazda MX-5 is planning a back to basics approach that returns to the original brief.

The MX-5 and Spider will share a Mazda steel chassis and rear wheel drive layout but engines will be supplied by their respective manufacturers. The Mk4 MX-5 is hoping to drop about 100kg from the current model's kerb weight, to allow it to make the most of new turbocharged 1.3 and 1.5 litre engines. The company's SkyActive technology should help the new MX-5 remain clean, green and economical to run. Other similarities between the siblings include the windscreens, front bulkheads, engine bays and both axles. However shared components are not expected to exceed 40%, a relatively low figure for this kind of joint venture.

So far Alfa has been more forthcoming on its version than Mazda, but details are emerging. Both new roadsters will be produced at Mazda's factory in Hiroshima, Japan and should be ready by 2015, with the MX-5 just about pipping the Spider to the post.

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