There are very few cars in the world that could command – never mind successfully pull off – a live reveal at 3am. The Mazda MX-5 is one of them. Such is the global popularity of the two-seat roadster that the Japanese firm decided to hold three simultaneous launch events around the world; one in Urayasu City in Japan, the second in Monterey, California, and the third in Europe, in Barcelona. When it comes to time zones, we drew the short straw.
Having just recently turned 25, the MX-5 has sold close to one million units and now it is about to start a whole new chapter with the unveiling of this fourth generation model. Built on an entirely new platform, which Mazda will share with the Fiat Group, it utilities new SkyActiv technology that sees the new model shed 100kg in comparison with the car it replaces. All this despite the greater demands in relation to safety. Much of this weight saving has come not in the form of exotic materials but rather through clever, measured engineering.
In terms of appearance, the nose of the MX-5 is lower and sharper than ever before and presents Mazda’s most aggressive interpretation of its Kodo design language to date, while smaller light units, featuring LED daytime running lamps, portray a significantly sportier face to the world. These newfound curves follow through the car’s design to the rear, which has more defined haunches helping to give the MX-5 a more athletic stance without being overtly masculine or feminine. At the back there’s a new, smaller light design that sees twin circular units sunken into the bodywork, while indicator clusters either side are somewhat reminiscent of those seen on the Jaguar F-Type.
From the driver’s seat the interior of the MX-5 is an excellent example of how to balance style, simplicity and a decent measure of tactility. Even so it will feel instantly familiar to MX-5 fans. Painted bodywork overlaps inside the tops of the doors, which helps to brighten the interior up and a nicely-sized three-spoke steering wheel gives a clear view of the instrument cluster in front of it. The gear selector feels to be within perfect reach, while in between it and you Mazda has retained a ‘traditional’ handbrake rather than adopting an electronic version. The centre console is now also much cleaner in appearance thanks to the fitment of the company’s latest infotainment system.
As for the mechanicals, for now Mazda is remaining pretty tight-lipped. What we do know is that it will be powered by its SkyActiv-G direct injection petrol engines, which will be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox – though we also expect an automatic version to appear. It’s expected that the company’s new 1.5-litre petrol engine will be the entry-level option, with well over 100hp. Suspension will consist of a double wishbone setup at the front and a multi-link design in the rear while the steering will be an electric power-assisted rack and pinion system. Although shown with a fabric roof it is expected that a folding hardtop version will also be offered given the popularity of the outgoing Roadster Coupé.
No set dates have been given for when the new MX-5 will be available; however, it has been mooted that it could be at least the middle of 2015 before cars start to appear on our roads.
Worth staying up until 3am for? Looks like we won’t know for sure for some time to come.