Mazda’s next-generation ‘NE’ MX-5 is in line to use the company’s Skyactiv-X petrol engine technology rather than a plug-in or electric drivetrain, reports the UK’s Autocar.

    The Skyactiv-X engine uses alternating spark-guided compression ignition, the idea being to pair a high-revving naturally aspirated petrol’s character with greater efficiency and torque – somewhat like a diesel.

    It launched in 2020 here and is currently available in the Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan, as well as the CX-30. None of these are rear-wheel drive like the MX-5, of course.

    In these models, the 2.0-litre petrol is called Skyactiv-X ‘M Hybrid’, referring to its belt-driven starter/generator and 24V lithium-ion battery mild-hybrid system that harvests energy under deceleration.

    It produces 132kW of power and 224Nm of torque, with all of this mated to six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

    If, say, this engine were to be used in the next-gen MX-5 it’d offer 30 per cent more torque than the 2.0-litre ‘SkyActiv-G’ engine used in all MX-5 models bar the base roadster.

    It’d be expected to bring the 0-100km/h sprint time for the MX-5 to under 6 seconds.

    Mazda would need to re-engineer the MX-5’s underpinning to allow for this engine, and it’s reported that the company would most likely not offer any version of the more conventional SkyActiv-G in tandem.

    Mazda also hasn’t created a SkyActiv-X engine with a capacity smaller than 2.0 litres yet, which hints at a discontinuation of the 1.5-litre four-cylinder used in entry-level MX-5s today. The 2.0-litre is easily the majority seller here and in many other markets.

    “We want to look at the best powertrain to keep the vehicle lightweight, but because of the diversifying requirements and preference, we need to explore various options,” said Mazda design head Ikuo Maeda.

    It’s reported that Mazda might offer the SkyActiv-X engine in the next-generation MX-5 with different states of tune.

    Beyond the engine that’s expected, Mazda is predicted to draw on its “less is more” design language shown on the Vision Coupe concept from 2017, which has inspired all its latest cars.

    At this stage there’s been no official indication of a launch date or reveal for the next-generation MX-5.

    Mazda likes to draw out its life-cycles for the MX-5 with the current ND generation in production since 2015. Before that, the third-generation NC model was on sale for 10 years from 2005 until 2015.

    Mazda isn’t just sticking to smaller-capacity SkyActiv-X engines but is preparing for the next wave of its engine technology.

    Next Mazda MX-5 reportedly getting Skyactiv-X petrol power
    Pictured: Mazda I6

    Soon there’ll be two inline-sixes called the SkyActiv-X petrol and SkyActiv-D diesel. Both will have 48V electrical systems to smooth out the stop/start and add some low-end jolts of torque.

    Beyond this, Mazda re-confirmed its commitment to the MX-30 rotary engine range-extender hybrid, which it says will emerge by July 2022.

    By 2025 the company says it will start launching longer-range electric cars developed on an all-new EV-dedicated platform.

    MORE: 2023 Mazda CX-60 crossover SUV confirmed for Australia
    MORE: Everything Mazda MX-5

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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