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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata: More Secrets Revealed

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/15/2014 Peter Lyon

Despite the slow drip of information about the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata , Motor Trend sources say the 2016 roadster will be four inches shorter than the current model, and will be powered by a 1.5 liter, 130-hp base engine. Not enough power, you say? It might be with the Miata's confirmed curb weight of 2250 pounds.

When Mazda executives said they were going back to basics with the 2016 Mazda Miata MX-5 -- taking the roadster’s fourth generation back to the dimensions and specs of the original NA-series of 1989 -- they weren't kidding.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata The new model is smaller than the 25-year-old original. Just 154.1 inches long, it's a full 4 inches shorter than the current NC-series and 1.4 inches shorter than the NA, although it's 2.2 inches wider and 50mm longer in wheelbase.

Despite making its global debut this month, full details won't be announced until its motor show premiere in Paris, before it is launched internationally early next year.

But in a surprise revelation, our source has revealed the new MX-5 will tip the scales at 2250 pounds, confirming what we heard at the reveal and meaning Mazda has achieved its stated goal of reducing weight by up to 300 pounds, thanks to greater use of aluminum.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata Given the outgoing NC-series MX-5 manual weighs 2573 pounds, the entry-level ND-series MX-5 soft-top will in fact be almost 330 pounds lighter than its direct predecessor.

Sources also say that entry-level versions of the car will be powered by a 1.5-liter SKYACTIV four-cylinder gasoline engine producing 130 hp.

U.S. specs are yet to be announced, but that's a reduction of 30 hp from the outgoing model, which offers 167 hp from a larger 2.0-liter engine, but the weight reduction should more than compensate for the lower power output.

The Mazda3 1.5-liter engine produces 110 hp with 13.0:1 compression in Japan's base model, but Mazda has tuned it to generate more power at higher revs -- with a 12.0:1 compression ratio, so chances are we'll also get the most powerful 130-hp version in our MX-5.

We understand Mazda was also testing 1.6- and 1.8-liter powerplants for the entry-level MX-5, but opted for the 1.5 because it offered “the best balance of power and fuel economy,” according to our source.

Either way, notwithstanding its smaller displacement, which could create significant marketing hurdles for Mazda, the new MX-5 should deliver an improved power-to-weight ratio even at base level.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata "We will be able to use a smaller, less powerful, more fuel-efficient engine because we will have shaved so much off the current car’s curb weight," insisted one engineer at the launch in Tokyo on September 4.

Our source also said the first all-new MX-5 chassis since the original (the second-generation MX-5 was based largely on the first, while the third shared its roots with the RX-8) will bring vastly improved dynamics.

The first rear-drive application of Mazda's latest SKYACTIV chassis, which could also underpin other models including the long-rumored 2017 RX-7, is not only smaller but carries revised suspension and, for the first time in an MX-5, electric power steering.

“A repositioned drivetrain will deliver better weight balance and improved handling dynamics, giving you a better driving experience. And believe me, you will not notice the drop in power from the current version.”

As expected, however, there will be a larger 2.0-liter SKYACTIV engine, but our information is it will follow the launch of the initial 1.5-liter MX-5 by up to a year.

Once again the next MX-5 soft-top will eventually become available with a retracting hard-top roof, which will also bring more weight -- but it should still be the quickest, fastest MX-5 since the long-lamented turbocharged Mazdaspeed variant.

Do you think 130 hp is enough for the base 2016 MX-5 Miata? Tell us in the comments below.

2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata Live Reveal© Provided by MotorTrend 2016 Mazda MX 5 Miata Live Reveal
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