Mazda introduced the 4th-generation Miata at the New York International Auto Show today, alongside an anniversary edition model of the current third generation car.
The next gen car, internally “ND”, was previewed in bare chassis form only… and it’s a very interesting chassis.
Before going further, it would be worthwhile to review the work done for the NC chassis as part of your reading. In our post earlier this week, we presented our gallery of a cutaway NC Miata form 2006, showing the complete chassis in detail along with the engine, transmission, and suspension. The gallery of images in that post show the extraordinary lengths Mazda took to keep the NC generation as light as possible.
Now on to the next generation, or “ND”. Our 800-pixel image is below, or you can open a 2756-pixel image in another window to better understand the details. The ND generation takes weight saving measures to even greater length. Note the reference to remove as much as 220 pounds from the current car’s weight!
The press release is below with general details, but thanks to Mazda releasing this single image several months before the car is due to go into production, we can understand the most important updates in detail. First, clearly, the chassis is indeed all-new, rather than a slight rework, as the NA and NB generations were.
Starting up front, you’ll notice electric power steering. This saves horsepower and weight, and also allows a manufacturer to tune in different steering weights if needed. No word on Mazda’s intentions here, and Mazda is certainly aware that an extra measure of tuning will be necessary to preserve the Miata’s legendary steering feel and precision. We have no doubt that will be the case. The suspension is again a double a-arm coil-over. Note the aluminum upper and lower arms as well as the upright. And also note the 4-lug hubs, instead of 5. Mazda has determined that only 4 were necessary given the overall weight of the car. Same for the bearings hub – note that it attaches to the back of the hub with only 3 bolts. And the upper shock mount – 3 bolts. All part of Mazda’s typical “gram strategy” methodology for reducing weight to the minimum, while accounting for the required structural integrity.
Looking at the engine, we know from the press release that like the chassis it is a SkyActive engine. Look at the very long intake manifold runners. While not shown here, the long and intricate SkyActive exhaust headers are part of the engineering as well. We don’t yet know what size this engine is, rumor has two engines (1.5 and 2.0) present. If it is a 2 liter, hopefully the power will be in the 200 HP range in order to keep ahead of the BRZ/86/FR-S triplets (which the current car cannot do).
Looking further we see the Miata-typical link between the transmission and rear differential. It appears to be aluminum again, along with the differential itself. The rear subframe and suspension are entirely new, and again keeps weight to a minimum. Note the aluminum upright, although the suspension links themselves are hollow steel tubing. And take note of the much-appreciated coilovers. Handling is clearly a priority here, an area where the current car has fallen seriously behind. Even with a sport suspension option it is soft and has excessive body roll.
So this is what we have from Mazda today, and it’s clearly a major step in the right direction. The release schedule for the new car has not yet been announced by Mazda, although it’s believed to be in 2015. The new chassis will also be shared by Alfa, although Alfa will use their own engine and will use the car to restart a major presence in North America. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the two cars in road tests, and we should be seeing those in a year from now.
Mazda Press Release follows:
Innovate in order to preserve
The New York International Auto Show 2014 is the world premiere of the next-generation
Mazda MX-5’s bare chassis. Although it is still in the development stage, this chassis with
its front-midship-engine layout and rear-wheel-drive configuration, shows the direction of
the new model. The principals of keeping of the vehicle lightweight, 50:50 front-rear weight
distribution and low yaw inertia moment stay the same, but there is plenty that Mazda is
planning to change.
Times have changed drastically during the MX-5’s 25-year history. Each successive model
of the past three generations has seen slight increases in size and weight in response to
social requirements as people’s awareness of safety and the environment increase. But
today, demands for safety and environmental performance are exponentially higher.
However, Mazda firmly believes that even while meeting these demands, the fun of being
one with the car—the exhilaration felt by any driver on any kind of road, which to Mazda is
the fundamental attribute of the lightweight sports car—must be maintained. To do this,
Mazda considers it essential to realize a different kind of innovation that goes way beyond
mere product refinement. This is clearly summed up by the maxim that indicates the
direction of the next model— Innovate in order to preserve.
It goes without say that incorporating SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY was essential to meet
stringent environmental and safety performance requirements while keeping the model
lightweight. But beyond simple technological enhancements, Mazda also aimed to further
increase the car’s appeal to human sensitivity—in other words, to realize the ultimate in
Jinba Ittai exhilaration and satisfaction.
The coming model is entirely all new and incorporate all the latest advancements in
Mazda’s SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY. The bare chassis on display shows that while
realizing the most compact configuration of any generation of the MX-5, the engine is
located closer to the vehicle’s center and the vehicle’s center of gravity is lower than that
of any generation to date. In addition, the development team has set a goal of reducing
weight by more than 100kg while still achieving the highest standards of body rigidity and
collision safety performance.
Yet while the technology changes and progresses, Mazda has an unwavering
determination to keep the MX-5 faithful to its roots—to offer the driver the unrivalled
pleasure of feeling completely at one with the car. To achieve this with the new
SKYACTIV-CHASSIS, engineers are painstakingly researching the optimum position for
the driver as one of the development goals of ‘Innovate in order to preserve.’ In this way
Mazda is aiming to further evolve its signature Jinba Ittai driving experience and surpass
the car’s heritage.
One look at the bare chassis fires the mind’s eye to imagine what the new MX-5 will be like,
as well as anticipate the extraordinary driving pleasure and ‘lots of fun’ this new lightweight
sports car will bring into the owner’s life.