The Mazda MX-5 is one of the world's best handling cars under $25,000, and as much as we Americans want more power and size to turn the Japanese roadster into a proper pony car, that's probably not going to happen. Increased fuel economy and CO2 reductions will force the MX-5 into the same situation as larger vehicles. It has to get more efficient and lighter to stay competitive. MX-5 program manager Takao Kijima told Drive that Mazda is looking at alternative powertrains for its little roadster, but the Zoom Zoom specialists are also looking to drop 10% of the car's weight.
One way to improve efficiency is with diesel technology. Diesels can be 30% more efficient than petrol powerplants, but beefier diesel parts means that total displacement must be smaller than the current engine's 2.0 liters. Another idea is a hybrid, which, like the diesel, would provide instant torque that would also add weight to a vehicle that's just about to go on a diet. Kijima also stated that any MX-5 would absolutely have to have 50/50 weight distribution, meaning that a hybrid with its heavy batteries would by tricky, but not impossible. For our money, we'll take a 10% lighter Miata with a smaller turbocharged, direct-inject gas engine with ethanol injections.