Local loudmouths and internet car-forum keyboard warriors rejoice. Mazda’s fourth-generation MX-5 is here for you to recommend anytime someone asks what two-seater roadster they should buy; but without owning one yourself, of course. But in all seriousness, has Mazda remained true to the MX-5 vision on its 25th anniversary?
Mazda has sold over 900,000 examples of the MX-5 (or Miata / Roadster, depending on where you are) globally since the car’s introduction in 1989. Whilst North America accounts for almost half of that figure alone, Europe has taken around a third of the pocket-sized sports car over that period too. Whilst it’s easy to poke fun at the MX-5 for being the car that always gets suggested, there is clearly a reason for the significant recognition that’s backed up by the sales figures.
Lighter, leaner and sharper are probably the three best ways to describe the fourth-generation car. Something of a novelty in the modern automotive industry; not only is the new MX-5 more than 100 kg lighter than the outgoing version, it’s also shorter and lower. In fact it’s over 100 mm shorter, which is quite a chunk of metal for a car that’s hardly huge in the first place. Mazda, however, has recent form for weight-saving. The current (but soon to be replaced Mazda2) shaved a similar 100 kg from the weight of its predecessor.
Most obvious is the new styling. The MX-5, especially in later generations, has sometimes come in for the unfair criticism of being “a bit girly” when it comes to looks. With the fourth-generation, there’s no real possibility of that anymore. From those razor-creased headlights, curved flanks to the taut rear-end, there’s a lot more aggression in the MX-5’s shape now. Many have already pointed out the similarities to the Jaguar F-Type or last-generation BMW Z4 from the back, although that’s hardly a bad thing. In short; it’s a damn good looking roadster.
Mazda is so far being coy in terms of the engines to be offered, other than stating they’ll be SKYACTIV direct-injection petrol ones. Expect nothing too fancy – no turbochargers here – but with a low kerb weight performance should be suitably sprightly, whatever the specific horsepower figures. A six-speed manual gearbox remains standard, in keeping with the purist approach of the MX-5, as does the front-engined rear-wheel drive configuration. Mazda claims the engine is now mounted even closer to the centre of the car, in order to maximise the 50:50 weight distribution. Electric power-steering remains from the previous version, although we would expect Mazda has learnt enough to embody it with enough feel to satisfy enthusiasts.
On sale in 2015, we’ll have more details on prices and specifications nearer the time. But, based on the limited information, we see no reason for the fourth-generation to continue the success of its predecessors in automatically being recommended to anyone who mentions the word roadster on the internet.