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New York show: Mazda weighs in on MX-5 RF

Natural only: Mazda will not add turbocharging to its MX-5 soft-top or RF, preferring to emphasise the purity of naturally aspirated engines.

Additional weight “no problem” for Mazda MX-5 RF, but still no performance figures


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24 Mar 2016


MAZDA has ruled out offering any more body styles or adding turbo power to its freshly revealed MX-5 RF, but it will maintain the soft-top’s 50:50 weight distribution.

The RF (retractable fastback) was revealed this week with a power folding targa-style roof.

It will be offered with the 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engines in some markets, but Australia will only get the 118kW/200Nm 2.0 litre.

Soft-top versions are offered in Australia with both powertrains in either six-speed manual or auto transmission and in base or GT spec.

Mazda Motor Corporation MX-5 program manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto told Australian journalists at the New York motor show overnight that there was no need to fit the MX-5 with a turbocharger.

“We are not in pursuit of absolute power, that’s not what this car is about,” he said on the Mazda stand. “We are talking about response and the good engine sound is what we want. We will keep pursuing these parts but not in terms of absolute power.”

Mr Yamamoto dismissed an electrified turbo and highlighted the benefits of a naturally aspirated powertrain in the MX-5.

“In our thinking, there is no turbo system that doesn’t have turbo lag, so we feel that in terms of the throttle response I think nothing surpasses the naturally aspirated system,” he said.

“Talking about the pursuit of purity of enjoyment of MX-5 and that is about engine response and engine sound and those are the parts we hold dear to this car.”

Mazda is yet to announce the weight of the RF and how many kilograms it adds over the soft-top – which ranges from 1009kg-1057kg depending on the variant – but it is believed to be about 40kg, a similar addition to the previous generation folding hardtop.

Mr Yamamoto said that despite the extra weight, Mazda engineers had retained the even weight distribution and most of the driving characteristics of the soft-top.

“As you might know the tenets of MX-5, one of them is 50:50 weight distribution and we have been quite strict in observing this,” he said.

“As you have implied, with the weight balance changing because of the automatic roof closing structure, we have adjusted it on the suspension so I am sure you will be able to feel the ‘jinba ittai’ (Mazda’s term for describing a driver’s connection with the car) feeling that we have imbued into this car. The weight distribution is pretty much kept.

“We have tried to improve on the potential of the vehicle dynamics in various ways. Of course we mention that the roof structure is slightly heavier in terms of the parts itself but if you have a look at the parts which are most further away from the centre of gravity, we are talking about the front and the mid-roof, those are made lighter.”

Mr Yamamoto said that while the same basic principals had been used for both the soft-top and RF, changes in the suspension set-up meant some difference in driving characteristics.

“We are always trying to pursue the fun-to-drive aspect,” he said. “Soft-top has its character and has its taste, and what we tried to do with RF is it has its own character and that’s what we tried to set up in the character as well.

“You can drive soft-top and RF in the same driving scenario but have a different experience.”

According to Mr Yamamoto, no consideration has been given to further variations on the MX-5 body, including a fixed-top coupe.

“I think MX-5 basically is going to be an open-roof car so it always has to have some sort of open roof,” he said.

“Of course, we can think of many different things but with this car with RF we thought this was the most appropriate option. We are not really thinking about other variants.”

Mazda is expected to announce performance figures and data relating to weight soon, while Australian pricing will be announced closer to the launch date which will be within a year.

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