Mazda Reveals Skyactiv Chassis for Upcoming Miata

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Despite its dainty proportions the Mazda Miata is always a big deal, especially when there’s a new one on the way. To help celebrate this iconic roadster’s 25th anniversary the company brought in a throng of historic models and put ‘em on display here at the New York Auto Show.

Heritage is important, especially with a car that’s as revered as the Miata. These dozen or so vehicles illustrate how far this nameplate has come over the past two-and-a-half decades and probably hint at where the next-generation model is headed. But misty-eyed nostalgia isn’t the only thing on display at Mazda’s booth.

The company also used this event to reveal its brand-new Skyactiv Chassis, it’s the structure that will support the upcoming Miata. I guess if you’re not ready to introduce the whole car, bits and pieces will have to do.

Skyactiv is all about improving efficiency by ruthlessly optimizing vehicle components from engines and body structures, to suspension assemblies and transmissions. By 2015 Mazda is aiming to improve the fuel economy of its vehicles by 30 percent compared to 2008, and Skyactiv is how they get there.

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The company claims its next-generation Miata will be lighter, stronger and smaller than today’s version – basically more in line with the original. Of course it will still be rear-wheel drive but they’ve made a host of significant enhancements.

The engine has been moved rearward toward the car’s middle and the center of gravity has been lowered as well. Overall the folks at Mazda are aiming to trim around 100 kilograms from the Miata’s curb weight. That’s about 220 pounds, but they want to do it the right way, without sacrificing body rigidity, driving enjoyment or safety performance.

And getting them a good way toward that goal the new Skactiv Chassis is about 14 percent lighter than the one supporting today’s car. Front and rear the suspension has been totally reworked. The Miata now features electric power steering with a higher ratio and an altered caster angle for better tracking.

This is the first time Mazda’s Skyactiv principles have been applied to a rear-wheel-drive architecture. The company is looking to continue it so-called Jinba Ittai philosophy – that’s a sense of oneness between the driver and car. More information about the next-generation MX-5 Miata will be announced closer to its on-sale date.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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