Next 86 could share MX-5 platform

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Mazda's new MX-5 could not only form the basis of Fiat's upcoming 125 Spider, but replacements for Toyota's popular 86 coupe and its twin, the Subaru BRZ.

The deal that will see Fiat produce an all-new sports roadster based on the same compact rear-drive SKYACTIV platform as the MX-5 (but with different sheetmetal and engines – perhaps the same 177kW/350Nm 1.75-litre turbo-petrol engine as the Alfa Romeo 4C) has been well documented.

Mazda's fourth-generation MX-5 goes on sale in Australia next month, priced from just $31,990 and powered by a 96kW/150Nm 1.5-litre petrol engine, with a 2.0-litre versions to follow, while the new Fiat 124 Spider is expected to be revealed later this year before going on sale in 2016.

The 86 and BRZ coupes, meantime, were produced in a joint-venture arrangement between the Japanese brands that saw Subaru undertake most engineering work and near-identical models from both brands released in 2012.

Both the 86 and BRZ received minor updates around this time last year and Toyota, which has an equity interest in Subaru, is expected to release a major midlife facelift for the 86 at the Tokyo motor show in October.

Separately, Toyota and BMW are working on a joint-venture sports car project that is expected to lead to a born-again Toyota Supra and a replacement for BMW's Z4, and the pair also have a technology sharing deal that could produce a hydrogen-powered version of the BMW i3.

Toyota has previously indicated it will produce a successor for the 86 — a pet project personally backed by president Akio Toyoda – but latest news out of Japan is that both the 86 and BRZ could migrate onto the new MX-5 platform in their next generation, following rumours that Toyota has tested the new MX-5’s chassis.

A source close to Toyota tells us it's a difficult situation because the Japanese giant is in the final stages of completing its own new rear-drive sports car chassis, which could not only underpin the next 86 but an all-new small sports coupe-hatch.

“There is one possibility though,” said our insider. “If Toyota was to employ the MX-5’s chassis, it’d be on the next generation 86.”

Either way, from what we’re hearing, the next 86 will employ a smaller, lighter rear-drive platform and – though it may displease the purists – could even be powered by a downsized turbo-petrol engine.

Of course, any decision about the next 86 platform will impact Subaru's BRZ, which would not have materialised without Toyota.

Mazda has long stated it would share its SKYACTIV technologies with any car-maker prepared to pay for them, and the next-generation Toyota Yaris will be Mazda-2-based and even made for North American markets at Hiroshima’s new facility in Mexico.

More recently, Mazda inked a deal with the world's largest car company that could result in the first plug-in hybrid and even hydrogen fuel cell models for Mazda, and a range of diesel-powered models potentially including an all-new small SUV for Toyota.


Dyno data for Toyota 86's that have been modified by MRT Performance.

Toyota 86 Power Kits here.

Words by Marton Pettendy & Peter Lyon

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