Next-Gen MX-5 Likely to Get Carbon-Fibre Makeover
The world’s most popular roadster looks set to receive a carbon-fibre makeover in the future, which will make it lighter, allowing for the possibility of smaller engines too.
According to British-based car magazine Autocar, the next-generation Mazda MX-5 (fifth gen) will be lighter than any of its predecessors thanks to more affordable carbon-fibre material.
The fourth-generation MX-5, which went on sale in Australia in the second half of 2015, is already the sleekest there’s been, but MX-5 programme manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto hinted that its successor – which we shouldn’t expect before 2021 – will be svelter still.
Yamamoto said that “the size is right”, but going forward “lightweight materials will be very important”. Furthermore, a lighter MX-5 could get away with a smaller engine to power it, and that’s something that Mazda has already achieved with the current model’s 129-horsepower 1.5-litre unit.
“It’s a simple concept,” said Yamamoto. “The vehicle weight gets lower, there’s a smaller engine, smaller tyres. It’s a lightweight sports car.”
But less powerful, more efficient engines could also mean that the current 1.5 and 2.0-litre versions get phased out in the future.
At present, the heaviest MX-5 – the forthcoming Retractable Fastback, which will arrive in 2017 – tips the scales at around 1,100kg. With a lighter carbon-fibre body and a smaller engine, there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect a future model to weigh in at less than 800kg.
Also, Yamamoto said that Mazda has affordable carbon-fibre “in development”, but did not say that it was solely for the MX-5. That means we might see other Mazda models benefitting from the material in the future. Lighter cars allow for smaller engines and that means lower emissions, something that all car manufacturers are under pressure to achieve.
However, Yamamoto had bad news for fans of Mazda’s MX-5 Speedster and Spyder concepts (shown above), which were unveiled at the 2015 SEMA show in Las Vegas. He said that both had been ruled out as “not feasible” for production because they were “very difficult” to make.