Amidst the festivities of the Miata’s 25th birthday bash, Mazda quietly unveiled the chassis for the next-generation MX-5 off in the corner while barely saying a word about it. To true Mazdafarians, however, they don’t need to. All the answers are written in steel and aluminum and it’s clear that the next-generation MX-5 will be a return to form for the beloved roadster, a throwback to the first-generation.
Mazda has been making great strides with its high-compression SkyActiv engines in recent years, but it’s more than just mills. SkyActiv represents a whole new way of development in which lightness and efficiency are infused into every fiber the vehicle’s being. The ND’s underlying bones are in fact the first ever FR (front-engine, rear-wheel-drive) SkyActiv Chassis. It might not look very different, but as Mazda says, they changed everything to make it the same.
The biggest aspect you will notice is that the chassis very, very, compact. Early reports say that it weighs over 220 pounds less than the outgoing NC chassis. Much of this is due to what is a clear and excessive use of aluminum parts, including the rear arms. When the NA debuted, the FC and soon-to-arrive FD RX-7s made heavy use of aluminum in their suspension arms, but the NA used stamp steel to keep the car’s cost down to a paltry $13,500.
The suspension points mirror the NA, as do the mechanical layout and ancillaries. The only major difference is that the MX-5’s trademark PPF (power plant frame) bracing the transmission to the differential as swapped sides due to the exhaust being moved to the other side. Even the steering layout is same with the exception of electric power steering unit. placed fore of the front cross-member so the overall center of gravity stays low.
It looks like it will have short overhangs, confirming what we’ve heard from our sources: that the ND will be highly focused on lightness and agility.
The SkyActiv engine, in its first ever longitudinally mounted orientation, even sports a twin-cam valve covers that resembles the original B6 engine’s. The ball shift knob atop the transmission adds to the overall classic feel.
JNCers will be pleased to find that the ND’s hubs have subtracted one stud from the NC and are now back to four lugs. As we know, small wheels are best, and it appears that the MX-5 will once again buck the bigger-is-better trend for what truly matters — fleetness of foot. The chassis mockup wears 17-inch wheels resembling the 14-inchers from the Protége, but these are likely placeholders.
Overall, the chassis is elegant and compact, with simple packaging that promises a true driver’s car. If the body is as beautiful as this chassis, and we’ve been told that it is, the next MX-5 will be a damn fine car. Kudos to Mazda for not only building a car that looks like a heritage model, but one that follows its roots in spirit too.
Drivetrain looks pretty far back, w/ the driver sitting pretty close to the rear wheels. So weight will be around 2400~2500 lbs? Very impressive! The engine w/ that valve cover looks fantastic. This is perhaps the most awesome autoshow tease ever; I really can’t wait to see the actual car. Looks like there’s a drawing of the chassis w/ an outline of the body on that red backdrop?
It was just one simple brushstroke. Not much to discern the shape of the car overall unfortunately.
Shades of a certain Lamborghini stand at the 1964 Turin Motor Show.
I just hope they don’t screw it up with too much of their current design language.
All I can say/hope for;
Don´t hink so. The necessary pedestrian-safety-ratings can not be achieved with pop-up-lights. At least that´s what they tell us.
I am painfully aware of that. Dang pedestrians always jumping in front of cars. Why can’t we trust them to stay out of the way of large, noticeable, loud chunks of metal?
But a man can dream…
Hey! Idiots are an important part of society and should be conserved as much as possible! Ever since making cars rounder and fatter up front we have had a minuscule decrease in pedestrian fatalities which can only be largely attributed to better brakes and more traffic lights/road planning!
That’s cool, I didn’t know my opening headlights were a problem. Look out!
I just leave ’em up on my MR2 (When I had the old Miata, I kept killing the battery when I left them up, but they were always up when I drove) because it just looks better.
They put the tyres on the wrong way around.
No they didn’t, they’re just on the wrong side.
or it’s a trick, and it’s actually the world’s first rear-engine, front wheel drive roadster!
not quite far back enough for rear engine actually but who cares
Nice to see Mazda has decided to go back to its roots… I always felt it was a shame this car is looked at as a “chicks car” because it is such a fun car to drive and with a little more power it could be very quick. I would really like to see a coupe version to sell against the BRZ/FRS designed like the BMW Z4 coupe and dont forget the turbo… hint hint I hope the Mazda guys look at this like the Nissan guys looked at the IDX thread!!
Agreed, throw a subtle hatch on this thing and I’m in!