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Multiple engine choices expected for Mazda MX-5

Downsizing: Mazda's 2.0-litre SkyActiv four-cylinder is the most likely candidate to power the MX-5, but a smaller version could create a new variant for the iconic sportscar.

Mazda to target younger buyers with “great value” MX-5 in new generation

27 Aug 2014

MAZDA’S eagerly awaited MX-5 sportscar is likely to get a choice of engines for the first time in Australia when it arrives here next year.

This might include the 1.5-litre engine from the all-new Mazda2, creating a better-value youth-focused variant charged with closing the sales gap on Toyota's popular 86.

Speaking at the launch of the new flagship Mazda3 diesel, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told GoAuto the new version of the iconic sportscar would be available with “potentially more engine options”, which could herald a smaller capacity variant.

Pricing and range options have not yet been announced, but it is possible Mazda will shape the cost of a new entry-level MX-5 to muscle in on the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ's runaway success.

Mazda has also yet to specify any technical details including engine options, but a turbocharged MX-5 has been ruled out, leaving just a handful of possibilities from the Mazda powerplant line-up.

A 118kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder powers the current MX-5 roadster, and the new version is not expected to deviate greatly from its tried and tested drivetrain.

The most likely candidate therefore is a version of the 2.0-litre SkyActiv engine found under the bonnet of the entry-level Mazda3, but its 114kW and 200Nm output might get a boost to help it compete with the 147kW 2.0-litre boxer of the Toyota 86 and its Subaru twin, the BRZ.

A second, more affordable, youth-focused version might join the range, possibly adopting the 81kW 1.5-litre SkyActiv four-cylinder petrol of the freshly unveiled Mazda2.

About 100kg has been stripped from the new MX-5, and Mazda says a more spartan lightweight choice, more akin to the original MX-5 launched in 1989, would appeal to a younger audience, further fueling the possibility of a 1.5-litre version.

The 138kW 2.5-litre SkyActiv engine of the Mazda3 SP25 and CX-5 might also be on the cards, but its size and weight would likely rule it out for powering a lightweight two-seater sportscar.

Mazda Australia senior public relations manager Steve Maciver told GoAuto that the next generation MX-5 would adopt the principles of the original 1980s model to target both a younger market and the competition.

“Lightweight rear-wheel drive sportscar offering great value is what we want to return to,” he said.

“If we look at the experience we had with the 86 (Toyota), they were able to come in with a fairly competitive price, and when you're able to offer a sportscar at a competitive price what it does is open up opportunities for younger buyers.”

Mr Maciver said existing customer base of a more mature generation would be catered for in the new car, but the brand was looking to branch out in light of recent competition.

“The current buyer demographic for MX-5 is a little bit older, but given what we can do with model line-up, what we can potentially do with value, and also given the fact the new car is going to be a little bit more edgy and aggressive in terms of design, we feel there is more opportunity to target younger buyers,” said Mr Maciver.

“With recent additions to that segment we feel there is a lot more attention on sportscars in general, and perhaps they are having a bit of a renaissance with younger buyers. We definitely see an opportunity for MX-5 to fit in to that.”

The current MX-5 is available in two variants, but the entry-level Roadster Coupe differs only slightly from the Roadster Coupe Sports, with more premium interior trim and wheels.

The new range is expected to put more air between variants with a corresponding pricing structure.

Mazda will simultaneously unveil the fourth generation MX-5 at each of its key markets around the world next week.

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