Mazda MX-5 is known as Miata in United States and Eunos Roadster in Japan. The history of this compact sports car dates back to the early 1980s, when Mazda’s engineers started to build up a design for a new, lightweight, two-seater sports car. Many different ideas were submitted in the planning phase. Layout proposals included front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD) and even a mid-engine setup. In order to minimize development and production costs, the best approach would have been to replace the body of a compact FWD car with a new sports car body, or perhaps reposition the engine and drivetrain for a mid-engine layout. However, the agile handling and a linear driving feel would be almost impossible to achieve without a RWD layout. For Mazda, this meant an entirely new powertrain would have to be developed, which would require a sizeable investment. In the end, despite the added cost, the engineers agreed that they had no choice but to pursue the ideals of a lightweight sports car.
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