• Oct 9th 2008 at 3:03PM
  • 40
Click above for high-res gallery of the Mazda MX-5

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.

[Source: Drive]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      More efficient to stay competitive? Really?

      Mine gets 26mpg city and 37mpg highway... that's not efficient and competitive in the sportscar catagory? That's not efficient and competitive in ANY catagory (including the Fit/Yaris/Versa one)?

      How efficient, exactly, do you expect a sportscar to be?
        • 6 Years Ago
        You cannot measure cars against each other using your figures versus ratings. You may drive differently than other people.

        Some guy gets >60mpg in his Accord. And what exactly does that mean to all of us?
        • 6 Years Ago
        25mpg regularly here.

        I've seen around 35, but yes I was driving like a grandma.

        The MX-5 isn't a MPG machine by design. I'd prefer to have a smaller, revvy DI motor with a turbo over just about any other "alternative" drivetrain.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ratings are 22/27, not 26/37. I think they can do better. The Vette does almost that well.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Don't tell me what to do. You're not my mom.

        Given how much more powerful and capable the Vette is and what it can do for mpg, the Miata with its smaller size and much less powerful engine should be able to do a lot better. That's what I said before, and I'm saying it again now.

        Wow, you went from a single person's figures to an internet poll. Internet polls are a joke, even if the EPA hosts them. They're statistically invalid due to self-selection even when people don't try to game them.

        I have a couple Corvette-owner friends. I don't know any who skip shift. You only have to rev the engine up a few hundred more revs to have the skip gate turn off (if you haven't already disconnected it), and every driver I know does so because they find the skip-shift weird.
        • 6 Years Ago

        Since you love the EPA so much let's get the numbers off their website shall we?

        From Fueleconomy.gov:

        EPA rating:
        Miata 22cty / 27hwy / 24 comb
        Corvette 16cty / 26hwy / 19comb

        The EPA observed city mileage is 6mpg in the Miata's favor. 6mpg is a huge difference.

        But wait, let's look at the owner observed mileages from the same website:

        Owner observed:
        Miata Lo29 / Hi32 / Avg30.9
        Corvette Lo19 / Hi30 / Avg23.8

        The the average LOW for the Miata is 1mpg off of the average HIGH for the Corvette! This is exactly what I am talking about. I have a few friends that own 'vettes that average around 20-23mpg unless they are taking a cross-state interstate trip with all highway mileage. They would love to get the mileage figures you say every Corvette owner sees.

        The EPA figures come from driving like a granny, using 6th gear as often as possible, and most importantly SKIP SHIFTING which is the first thing every 'vette owner I know disabled the first chance they got.

        The 'vette is an efficient car, and amazing so considering the performance, but it is NOT more economical than a four cylinder in everyday driving much less being driven like it is supposed to be. And, even if that was somehow magically possible, the $26,992 price difference between base models buys the Miata owner 6504 gallons of gasoline to burn any way he pleases at $4.15 for premium. These cars aren't in the same economy class at all, so let's stop comparing them like they are being cross-shopped by price-conscious buyers, OK?
          • 6 Years Ago

          LS7 never said he loved the EPA or its ratings, just mentioning that you have to compare apples to apples. Chill out. And the Mazda's EPA rating constitutes "driving like a granny" just as much as the Corvette's. They're rated in the same driving/acceleration style.

          Also, 24 mpg average - 19 mpg average = 5 mpg, not 6. No biggie but I think it just exaggerates your point.

          And who knows how that guy was driving to get each of his mileage ratings, and if he was accelerating each car at the same rate to get his lows and highs. For example, 29 mpg average as a low (aka flogging the car) seems a little high.

          And I halfway agree with what you're saying, but you honestly sound a little too angry about it to be really objective.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ratings are blatant lies. In both cases.

        Yes, the Corvette gets excellent mileage. Driven in 6th gear. Like a Grandma. Like nobody does.

        I average a real world 26mpg on my bumper-to-bumper, gridlocked commute from Marietta to Atlanta everyday. I got 36mpg driving the tail of the dragon all day long. My worst tank so far has been 22mpg. On a track day. RACING. Try those with a 'vette. The EPA ratings for these cars are a sham, pure and simple.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A diesel Miata? A hybrid Miata? No thanks Mazda. I don't want an "alternative" powertrain in a sports car. And I don't understand why the Miata needs to have its powerplant replaced either. I'm all for less weight and improving efficiency, but there are other avenues to take before going all Prius with the car. Mazda could easily keep a traditional ICE in the Miata and meet CAFE. They should continue to reduce weight across the board, and add diesel/hybrid power to other models that lend themselves more to that type of powerplant. The Miata is successful because it is a traditional sports car. I think a hybrid Miata will be the end of this car and possibly the brand.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Have to agree with Eric.

        If the Miata gets any "alternative" drivetrain, it had better be a rotary engine.

        Diesel Miata, NO WAY. 4000 RPM Redline, and tractor driving feeback. Not a chance.

        Hybrid? WHY? the weight will lower the efficiency of the car, and ruin the driving dynamics, not to mention ruin the pricing, and the shape and size, in addition to the weight.

        This is a light roadster sports car, this is not an econo-box. Why on earth do people seem to think that EVERY car must serve EVERY role? My miata doesn't serve every role I use a car for. It serves a fairly specific role. Personal transportation, and being fun at it.

        Buy a stupid Prius, and leave the Miata alone. If Mazda needs a hybrid, let them hybrid a 3 or a 6 or something.

        But they had better release a real hard roof coupe 2-seat sports car before they worry about a hybrid. Zoom Zoom is becoming less and less zoom, and more and more Put-Put. SUVs and front drivers getting all the real attention, and losing their bodystyles and their manual transmissions, like the Mazda6.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd love to see the Miata get smaller again. With the huge rims and wheel arches, it's a clown car right now. Get back to basics. I don't have a big problem with the drivetrain, it's not hugely oversized, and I don't want a turbo in that car. A supercharger might be okay, but you're not going to save weight going to an intercooled supercharger over the current drivetrain, not without reducing power output considerably.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It would have to be a turbo. Superchargers are really limiting, especially on small engines. Is there any supercharged 4 cylinder left? TSI engine doesn't really count.

        They'll do it right, Mazda is one of the few companies I trust.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "I don't want a turbo in that car."

        Hell, you talk as if you're going to be the one an only one to get it and I've heard enough from you to discern you'd never pick one up in the first place.

        Besides a damn turbo can be restrained to produce a linear curve for those not interested in a quick power plateau. Like wise, Mazda could offer (or worst case aftermarket support) the removal of the limits just like the limits placed on the ms3's early gear/s.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't really want a turbo because in that car I want more linear power delivery.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Is there any supercharged 4 cylinder left?"

        Mercedes puts their line of supercharged 1.6 and 1.8 4-cylinders in the C, E, CLK and SLK. They are very popular in Europe, taxi drivers love the supercharged, natural gas powered 1.8 in the E200CNG.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why not have a turbo in it? Imagine how sweet an MX-5 would be with the MZR Turbo. 263 horses in that car would make my day.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why not put a lightweight turbocharged Rotary engine in?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'll take one with a 2.4 liter straight six and wider rear axle.
        • 6 Years Ago
        There are plenty of TR6 and TR250 on ebay if you must have an inline 6 about that size. Having owned a TR4 and a Miata, they are both great fun and the TR is more for a hobbyist/mechanic. Inline 6 would sound nice...but is a packaging nightmare with an MX5.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I certainly have no need for it to get larger or having a balance altering lump up front. It's a sports car. Keep it as light and small possible for maximum driver reward. And what's with these fools calling it a 'gay car'. Never been to an SCCA event?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'll be impressed if they can make it lighter as a hybrid or diesel. They could make it lighter by shoving a rotary under the hood...but that wouldn't improve fuel economy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, I'd be impressed if they could make it lighter as a hybrid too, especially considering the batteries you'd have to squeeze in. I'd rather just see a straight up lighter MX-5 than a hybrid one, hybrid is just a stopgap until we can come up with a real solution anyways.

        Make it lighter, and offer a smaller motor in it. But don't take the current motor out. And they should also make a bigger motor available for a mazdaspeed MX-5.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Mazda seems to be on the better automakers at trimming weight off their cars or keeping weight to a reasonable number, cept for the SUVs.

      Direct-injection would be a great addition to the MX-5. It seems to add decent HP with better MPG with most engines. Mazda can start by offering MX-5's without all the gloss and superfluous crap that got added to the latest version.

      • 6 Years Ago
      It's a good car, shame it has the reputation of being a "gay" car, you can't peel invisible rainbow stickers off the car ... maybe in other markets people take this car seriously!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't know about you, but I buy things I like, not what other people like. Especially something as expensive as a car.

        There are basically 3 cars under 25k that are rear wheel drive, and have rear independent suspension. MX-5 (miata) and the Solstice/Sky twins.

        If you want a daily driver that's also a real sports car, on the cheap, this is pretty much it (in the US).
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can't take you seriously.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Anybody who knows anything about sports cars knows takes the Miata seriously.

        Anybody who doesn't? Well, I guess they're entitled to their opinion too.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Reduce the displacement to say 1.4L add bi-turbos or the new electric drive superchargers, to replace the lost power in both the low and high ends. Squeeze a 10% weight loss out of basic platform plus smaller engine being lighter and you have an improved car that'll get better mileage and better performance.

      Who knows, in 5 years the Miata might be the premier high performance roadster and we'll be awaiting the intro of the Ecotec powered Corvette.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I wish Mazda the best of luck, but to meet all the required safety standards and performance rigidity, I'm not sure how much weight can be removed while keeping it affordable.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Hire a monkey to stand around on the assembly line and knock a dent in the firewall so the fuel pump from the MS3 engine will clear and this car would be badass. Until then I will just continue to prefer the NAs and NBs.
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