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Paris show: Mazda MX-5 final details set for France

Show and tell: Mazda North America design director Derek Jenkins talks up the new MX-5's styling at a media event in Monterey.

Mazda eyes Paris motor show for unveiling of MX-5's multiple powertrain choices

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Mazda logo5 Sep 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

PARIS motor show is shaping up as the venue for the final disclosure of powertrain and performance secrets to the new-generation Mazda MX-5.

Officially, Mazda will only say that details of the new engines and other unannounced factoids for the new MX-5 will be released in the next few weeks, as Mazda continues its drip-feed of information on the the all-new roadster.

But respected German motoring magazine Auto Motor Und Sport says the biennial French car expo starting October 2 has been chosen as the scene for the final chapter to be told.

This week, the Japanese company unveiled the new, Kodo-inspired styling of the MX-5 in three media events around the world, in Monterey, California, Barcelona, Spain, and Tokyo, Japan.

According to Mazda insiders, there was considerable debate behind the scenes in the company over whether to tell the engineering story as well as the design tale at the Monterey event, which was staged in a disused US Army helicopter hangar transformed for the occasion.

In the end, it was decided to split the story into two, with the engineers taking centre stage at the Paris show instead.

Mazda has disclosed that the new engines – at least two this time – will be taken from the latest SkyActiv pool of petrol four-cylinder powerplants, tuned especially for the rear-drive sportscar and bolted on to a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmission.

The base engine is speculated to be a 1.5-litre normally aspirated unit taken from the all-new Mazda2. Interestingly, Auto Motor Und Sport suggests this engine might be ramped up to 1.6 litres, presumably to boost performance to a level more suitable for Mazda's iconic open-top two-seater.

In the Mazda2, the 1.5-litre version develops maximum power of 85kW and peak torque of 141Nm.

The main engine will almost certainly be a normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder, producing at least as much power as the current 118kW 2.0-litre unit in the Mazda3, but probably more.

The two show cars revealed to media in Monterey were not road-ready vehicles.

One even had no suspension or other underpinnings, and was clearly just an early styling buck. For journalists, it was strictly hands off.

The two cars had different interior trims, providing a clue to a plan by Mazda to supply multiple specifications when it comes to showroom time, about the middle of next year.

As GoAuto has reported, Mazda Australia is hoping to have one version priced under $40,000 – aimed at younger buyers – and at least one more with a higher equipment level and bigger engine with a higher price tag to match.

Initially, all MX-5s will be offered with folding soft-tops, but a folding hardtop in a new design apparently is in the works for release at a later date.

The next two big international motor shows are shaping up as major events for Mazda. After the MX-5 powertrain reveal at Paris, the company is planning to pull the covers off two more important models at the Los Angeles motor show in November.

One of those is expected to be a facelifted CX-5, but the other holds more intrigue. Speculation ranges from a compact CX-3 SUV to a rotary engine sports coupe, but no one seems to know for certain.

Watch this space …

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