The Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe | Part Seven

Powertrain - Two Four-cylinder Engines & Rear-wheel Drive

The new Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe will be launched with the same two lively four-cylinder engines as the soft top model (depending on market). Both are from the MZR family of engines, have four valves per cylinder and a displacement of 1.8 and 2.0 litres respectively. Both engines are installed front midship, placing them closer to the vehicle’s centre of gravity than an east-west mounted engine, for outstanding handling characteristics.

The MZR 2.0-litre produces maximum power of 118 kW/ 160 PS at 6,700 rpm and maximum torque of 188 Nm at 5,000 rpm. At least 90 per cent of this is consistently available at engine speeds of between 2,500 and 6,700 rpm, making the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe fun to drive, even at low engine speeds. The MZR 1.8-litre base engine produces a maximum of 93 kW/126 PS at 6,500 rpm and maximum torque of 167 Nm at 4,500 rpm. Thanks to aerodynamic refinement of the roadster coupe body style, the top speed is now 215 km/h (+ 5 km/h).

Both engines meet Euro Stage IV emission standards and deliver good acoustic qualities as well. A deep timbre of 500 Hz supports cultivated cruising at mid-engine speeds. Above 5,000 rpm, the engine sound swells to a sporty pitch.

The new MX-5 Roadster Coupe comes with either a five or six-speed manual transmission (depending on engine), both of which are easy to shift with just a flick of the wrist. With precise, short shift travel and low levels of shift effort, these transmissions are perfect complements to the MX-5 Roadster Coupe driving experience.

Like both early generations of the Mazda MX-5, the newest model has an aluminium powerplant frame in the transmission tunnel. This Z-shaped member functions like a strong backbone that connects the transmission and the rear differential. It can be traced back to similar structures in the sports car Mazda RX-7 and the current rotary engine sports car, Mazda RX-8, which is produced on the same assembly line in Japan as the Mazda MX-5 soft top and the MX-5 Roadster Coupe.

Safety & Equipment - On-road Safety and Comfort

The third-generation Mazda MX-5, both soft top and Roadster Coupe models, are the first Mazda roadsters to have side airbags as standard (depending on market). These are installed in the outer section of the seatbacks and protect the head and thorax. They consist of two chambers. Each chamber is activated at the same time by a common gas generator and a single inflator. This single inflation process delivers a decisive time advantage over conven- tional dual-stage airbag systems, in which both chambers are filled with gas one after the other. Furthermore, the upper and slightly larger chamber (that protects the head) inflates firmer and for a longer time, than the lower chamber. In this way, Mazda achieves a similar effect to vehicles with a permanent hard top equipped with curtain airbags.

Other passive safety features include ISOFIX anchors for securing a child safety seat in the passenger seat, and the front passenger seat airbag can be deactivated with the ignition key. Both the steering wheel column and the brake pedals are designed to reduce the risk of lower body injury to the driver in case of a serious front impact, and both seats have three-point seat belts with pretensioners and load- limiters.

In the extremely unlikely event that the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe could ever roll over, protection is provided to the passengers by bracing bars integrated into the A-pillars made of ultra-high-strength steel (1,500 Mpa), a massive windshield frame and reinforcements behind the seats. Also, large body shell cross members protect passengers in case of side impact.

58 per cent of the body shell is made of either ultra-high- strength or high-strength steel, both of which are three times stronger than normal types of steel and allowed for an ideal combination of thin, lightweight material that is extremely strong. The bonnet is made of aluminium and has been optimized for pedestrian protection. Its inner bonnet panel is made of a shock-cone structure that effectively absorbs impact energy applied to the outside of the bonnet from above.

continues... | Part Eight
Published 6 September 2006 Melanie Carter

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