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Mazda MX-5 Superlight

Mazda officially reveals its MX-5 Superlight, a sports car rival to Caterhams and Atoms

Mazda is celebrating 20 years of its MX-5 sports car with this striking Superlight version.

It’s set to star at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, and it heralds an even sharper way of thinking for a roadster that’s always focused itself firmly on being a drivers’ car. While this Caterham-esque show car is fully driveable (utilising the third-generation MX-5’s 1.8-litre entry level engine), there are no plans to put it into full production.

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The good news, though, is that it represents a new, more hardcore weight-cutting regime at Mazda. In the company’s words – ‘As a study for lightweight construction and driving enjoyment, the MX-5 Superlight version is the ideal ambassador for Mazda’s brand values.’

By lightweight, it means under 1000kg, a mark that’s pretty uncharted territory for modern, NCAP-pleasing sports cars. The idea has been to remove things not vital to driving, hence the eviction of the windscreen, any form of a roof, most of the interior trim and air conditioning. Well, it’s not like you’re going to be gagging for fresh air when you’re driving the Superlight.

It helps achieve a 995kg kerbweight, which when mated to the 125bhp/123lb ft 1.8-litre engine, ensures an 8.9sec dash to 62mph while achieving 45mpg. That’s a respective 1sec quicker and 5mpg more economical than the stock MX-5 1.8.

As well as losing all that weight, the Superlight has a bespoke chassis to improve dynamics further. There’s Bilstein coil-over suspension mated to Eibach springs, with a 30mm lower ride height than standard MX-5s. The already great hydraulic power steering and short-shift five-speed ‘box of the standard car remain.

The brakes are new, though; four-piston, fixed-caliper items with perforated discs, they’re big enough to require a 50mm increase in track width. They’re surrounded by the same 17in alloys as the MX-5 2.0, items that are already bereft of unnecessary weight. As you’d expect, the car remains rear-wheel drive.

While Mazda is calling it strictly a show car, there will no doubt be intent to get elements from the Superlight into production. You can see it for yourself at the Frankfurt motor show, which we’ll be reporting live from on September 15 when it opens to the press. Click here for the latest Frankfurt news, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for more performance car news, too.

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