So what’s this?
It’s the all-new, fourth generation of the world’s best-selling, two-seat convertible – Mazda‘s MX-5. With nearly a million sold over the last 25 years, a new generation of MX-5 – one of the world’s most popular and lauded driver’s cars – is always significant.
Just about everything. It’s an entirely new chassis – following Mazda’s recent “SkyActiv” push – clothed in an entirely new body along the lines of the current styling ethos at the Hiroshima-based company.
While that might make alarm bells ring, Mazda hasn’t changed the basic recipe of the MX-5 one iota. It’s still a relatively simple, lightweight, 2 seat sports car designed to feel like part of the driver rather than simply a tool for the job, something to which Mazda has always referred as “Jinba ittai” – horse and rider as one.
With the Mk3 getting a bit on the heavy side, Mazda has worked hard to shave weight off the Mk4, losing around 100kg depending on specification. This makes the base car around the same weight as the 2nd generation model – tipping the scales at around the same figures as a Ford Fiesta. It’s also the shortest MX-5 to date at 3915mm, with 15mm taken from the wheelbase, but 90mm removed from the already pretty short overhangs.
What powers it?
At the moment this is unconfirmed, but it seems likely that Mazda will offer 130hp 1.5 and 163hp 2.0 SkyActiv-G petrol engines we’ve already seen in other recent Mazda models. A lot of the SkyActiv architecture is shared across the range though, so it’s conceivable that Mazda could bolt anything in place, including the various diesel options.
Whichever engines Mazda opts for in the end, they’ll be attached to a six speed gearbox, though there’ll be an automatic option offered later.
How much will it cost?
It’s a bit too early in the product life to put hard numbers down – it’s not even going to be on sale until the back half of 2015 – but it seems reasonable to put the price in about the same range as the current model which starts at £18,495 for the 130hp soft top version.
While Mazda’s hunted for every spare kilogram to mimic the original car, they haven’t made the interior as spartan as 1989’s. Most of the fixtures and fittings are lifted from the new Mazda 3, including that pleasantly sized touchscreen and the controls by the handbrake. It’s an impressively high quality environment and, just as it should be, the binnacle is dominated by a huge, central tachometer to let you know just how much you’re wringing it out.
We’ve not seen any evidence of a Mazda 3-like head-up display yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see that making the journey between the cars too.
It’s surprisingly difficult to find alternatives to the MX-5. Pretty much anything in the same class of 2 seat convertible sports cars is significantly more expensive – step forward BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster – while cars that hit the same sort of buttons, like the Toyota GT86 and siblings don’t come roofless.
Of course if you’re just looking for topless fun at this price range, there’s the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet or the MINI Roadster convertible, but both are compromised hard top cars, rather than ground-up roadster designs like the MX-5.
In a line…
Twenty five years of being the best shows no signs of changing.