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Mazda MX-5 - Europe launch

Broadcast dates : 17th April 2005
23rd April 2005


In the beginning there was the MX-5. Well, not quite the beginning perhaps. Yet no motor industry-watcher would argue that early in 1989, Mazda re-invented a whole new approach to a type of car thatís sunken into obscurity.

The original Mazda MX-5 made affordable sports-car motoring a practical proposition once again. And since then, all the major manufacturers have taken the concept and run with it.

The third-generation MX-5 remains true to its roots. Making its debut in Geneva two months ago, the new car is beefier, more masculine than its predecessors. Itís also packed with more luxury and safety equipment.

Yet Mazda is extremely proud of the fact that overall mass has only increased by 10 kilograms Ė the equivalent of 10 litres of petrol.

The design brief for the new MX-5 stated that the Fun Factor had to be paramount. Thus the latest sports car would avoid the flab that has produced more cruiser-style sports cars from the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi.
The biggest styling departure is the elimination of the "coke bottle profile. The line from nose to tail is straighter, giving more cockpit room. To add more muscle, the fenders have been flared to accommodate more generous wheel and rubber sizings.

Cockpit materials have moved up-market on the new MX-5, with contrasting leather colours and metal finishes.

Yet the interior of the car retains simplicity as its key-note. The transmission tunnel dominates the cabin and the dashboard is straightforward.

Sportiness is achieved through five dials grouped in the instrument cluster, and the stubby gearlever recessed into the transmission tunnel.

For the first time, Mazda is fitting side airbags to this car.

The steering wheel is now adjustable and seating adjustment has been improved.

To enhance the top-down driving experience, there are waist-level vents to direct either hot or cool air into the cabin, to maintain a comfortable temperature no matter what the weather is doing.

As for driving fun, power is up, with the new top-level engine displacing 2 litres and producing in the region of 120 kiloWatts.

A milder 93 kiloWatt engine will also be offered in some markets.

Transmissions on offer are a five-speed manual and a six-speed auto, with drive remaining through the rear wheels.

An interesting device is an exhaust system that is tuned for harmonics. With the engine revving above five-thousand rpm, the exhaust system is tuned to produce a harder sportier note.

When the original MX-5 was announced in 1989, it enjoyed a great handling balance. Mazda has been careful to ensure fifty-fifty weight-distribution between front and rear axles with the new car.

The wheel sizes are now 17-inch in diameter, with 205/45 tyres. Like the original, the idea was not to go overkill on grip, but to maximize response to the steering wheel.

There is no confirmation that itís coming to South Africa, but as Mazda has imported examples of both previous MX-5ís, we have little doubt that itíll arrive here, possibly in time for our summer.

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