Officially unveiled a few weeks ago in Paris, the 2009 Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t a radical departure from the current model’s aesthetics – but Mazda has big plans for the future. According to MX-5 program manager Takao Kijima, Mazda’s future plans for alternative powertrains could seek to reduce the MX-5’s total weight by about 10%.
Ultimately leaning towards designs that would scale the MX-5 Miata down to a size smaller than 1989 models, Kijima explains that overall weight reduction is necessitated if Mazda is to be successful with their larger goal, which is engineering a new, fuel-sipping Mazda MX-5. Trimming a few pounds would help the MX-5 achieve a lower rate of fuel consumption as well as reduce emissions, effectively making the compact little car even more environmentally friendly than it already is.
In addition to shedding a few, Mazda also plans to design a new fuel-efficient powertrain, in the form of either a diesel or hybrid engine. Currently, Kijima admits a diesel application is more likely, since the added weight of the requisite hybrid battery pack would make Mazda’s goal of lightening the MX-5’s load significantly harder. “[Keeping the weight of a hybrid down] is a big headache,” Kijima explains. “Packaging is another big problem with a hybrid.” Despite the setbacks, Kijima hints that the MX-5’s future is almost certainly tinted a shade of green. “I would say the chance of a diesel or hybrid engine [for MX-5] is more than 50 per cent.”