MX-5 - Europe launch
dates : 17th April 2005
23rd April 2005
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
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
A milder 93 kiloWatt engine will also be offered in some
Transmissions on offer are a five-speed manual and a
six-speed auto, with drive remaining through the rear
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
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.
Car Torque is