A lighter load to carry may mean a less powerful engine.
One of the things I discovered after recently driving the Mazda MX-5 was that its engine is perfectly fine as is. We know Mazda agrees as it has said before that there are no plans to up the power or offer a turbocharger. What the automaker wants to do is make the car lighter, which is tough due to the fact that it already weighs in at a trim and slim 2,332 pounds. In a recent interview with Autocar it was revealed that Mazda plans to cut weight on the next Miata by using carbon fiber in the car's construction.
Nobuhiro Yamamoto, program manager for the MX-5, told the English outlet that the lightweight material was destined for his roadster. “Now carbon fibre is very expensive, but we have in development affordable carbon fibre, so the MX-5 will be lighter in the future.” Since the car is lighter, the engine won’t need to make as much power to propel it, at least that’s what makes sense on paper. And what makes sense on paper seems to make sense to Yamamoto as well. “It’s a simple concept. The vehicle weight gets lower, there’s a smaller engine, smaller tires. It’s a lightweight sports car.” That makes sense but we’d hate to see the MX-5 lose power. We have to draw the line somewhere, say around the US.
Americans may not respond well to an MX-5 that makes less than the 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque that currently comes out of the car’s 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-four. But Mazda may not have a choice as it turned away from hybrid engines in favor of its SkyActiv tech. One consequence of that move could be a smaller engine for the MX-5—and potentially other Mazdas as well—to help meet emissions regulations. Smaller engines aside, the issue here is weight loss. It'll be interesting to see just how much carbon fiber is used and how much weight it cuts. Mazda cut 250 pounds off of the Miata with the Speedster concept, but that car had no roof and a stripped interior. Hopefully the automaker finds a middle ground over the next few years.