Mazda MX-5 is pure zoom-zoom
9th September, 2005
Mazda has again set the lightweight, affordable sports
car benchmark with the arrival this month of the third generation MX-5.
New from the wheels up – only the side repeater lamp has been carried over - the world’s favourite
roadster remains true to the fun to drive formula that has seen more than 720,000 MX-5s sold worldwide
since 1989. To date about 11,000 have been bought in Australia.
Priced from just $41,860 for the six-speed manual with standard air conditioning, the all-new MX-5
is even better value than the superseded model.
The 2.0 litre, third generation roadster, has more power and torque, a bigger cabin and a host of
equipment upgrades that includes side airbags, a limited slip differential, 17 inch alloy wheels,
cruise control, six stack CD player, wheel-mounted audio controls, a cloth soft top and tilt
Standard safety features include ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, dual
front and front side airbags that offer both chest and head protection, seatbelt pretensioners with
load limiters, an intrusion minimising brake pedal and anti-whiplash seats.
The mechanical upgrades and equipment improvements are worth at least $2,800, yet the new 2.0 litre
powered MX-5 is just $977 more than the superseded 1.8 litre model with optional air conditioning
For the first time the Mazda MX-5 is offered with a six-speed Activematic gearbox complete with
wheel-mounted gear change paddles.
Activematic models also offer outstanding value and are priced from $44,035 and include additional
equipment worth $3,300 over the superseded $42,323 four-speed automatic model with air conditioning.
The extensive MX-5 range also includes a leather version, which offers leather seat trim and a
premium 200 Watt Bose sound system incorporating seven speakers and an automatic sound compensation
system that adjusts the sound for open or closed-top motoring. The leather-trimmed MX-5 is priced from
To complement the eight exterior colours and to maximise customer choice, the leather trim will be
offered in two colours, black or a rich saddle tan.
Of those eight colours only Sunlight Silver metallic and Brilliant Black are carried over. New to
MX-5 are True Red, Copper Red mica, Galaxy Grey mica, Winning Blue metallic, Nordic Green mica and
Marble White. Tan leather can be optioned with all but Winning Blue.
A Limited edition model, which is priced at $45,620 and individually numbered, rounds out the
comprehensive roadster range.
The Limited offers a host of trim upgrades including a red leather interior and can be ordered in
Brilliant Black, Galaxy Grey or Velocity Red mica, which is exclusive to the Limited. Only 250 of a
global build of 3,500 Limited models will be sold in Australia.
Despite the significant jump in standard equipment, the MX-5 remains true to the lightweight
formula that has defined the two seat roadster from day one.
Kerb weight for the six speed manual with air conditioning is a svelte 1,105 kg, just 4 kg more
than the old model.
Such a small weight gain is a major achievement given the automotive industry’s natural tendency
for curb weight of new models to increase when meeting growing market demands.
The all-new MX-5’s weight has been kept in check despite the new car being bigger in every
dimension, while boasting 22 per cent more flexural stiffness and a 47 per cent increase in torsional
rigidity compared with the previous 2nd-generation model.
The car also benefits from ideal 50:50 weight distribution, partly achieved by moving the engine
rearwards by 135 mm. This balanced front-to-rear weight distribution reduces the car’s yaw moment of
inertia, maximising the Mazda MX-5’s fun-to-drive formula.
Australian MX-5s are powered by a free-revving 2.0-litre MZR engine with 118 kW (ECE), a jump of
more than 10 per cent over the superseded model and 188 Nm of torque (up 11.9 per cent).
The increase in power and torque combined with a new, more efficient drivetrain has cut the 0-100
km/h acceleration time from 8.4 seconds for the previous model to 7.8 seconds for the all-new car.
The new model’s 0-100 km/h time is the same as that of the turbocharged SE model that went on sale
early in 2004.
Fuel consumption has improved from 8.9 L/100 km to 8.5 L/100 km for manual models and from 9.5
L/100 km to 8.9 L/100 km for the six-speed Activematic.
Driving the rear wheels the car employs double wishbones at the front and, for the first time, a
multi-link set-up at the rear.
It also features larger disc brakes front and rear and a stiffer, lighter and more linear power
assisted rack and pinion steering system with 2.7 turns lock-to-lock.
The managing director of Mazda Australia, Doug Dickson, said: “The all-new MX-5 captures the
essence of Zoom-Zoom and in doing so promises to write another significant chapter in the life of
Mazda’s iconic sports car."
“The new model not only offers drivers class leading dynamics but it also promises a more
practical, fun to own experience. Combine this with unrivaled value and the MX-5 is poised to
rejuvenate the affordable sports car market.”
When developing the all-new Mazda MX-5, programme manager Takao Kijima and his team defined the
exceptional 'soul' of the Mazda MX-5 by the Japanese expression 'Jinba Ittai' (pronounced gin-buy
ee-tie). The direct translation is “rider and horse as one.”
Updated for the 21st century, Jinba Ittai is akin to the bond between a single-seat formula-car
driver and his racer. Jinba Ittai is the essence of Zoom-Zoom according to Mazda.
The rider-and-horse idiom and the effort to provide a car universally seen as “lots of fun” served as
the focal point around which the original and the all-new Mazda MX-5 were designed and engineered.
Five basic requirements were defined by Mazda engineers to realise the Jinba Ittai concept.
- That the car would be as compact and as light as possible while meeting global safety requirements.
- That the cockpit would comfortably accommodate two full-stature occupants with no wasted space.
- That the basic layout would continue with the original’s front-midship rear-drive configuration with
the engine positioned ahead of the driver but behind the front axle for 50:50 weight distribution.
- That all four wheels would be attached by wishbone or multi-link suspension systems to maximise tyre
performance, road grip and dynamic stability.
- And that a power-plant frame would again provide a solid connection between the engine and
rear-mounted differential to sharpen throttle response.
Realising that any weight gain would be contrary to the Jinba Ittai goal Mazda engineers made
every gramme count.
Their “gramme strategy” assessed weight in the smallest possible increments and carefully scrutinised
weight-trimming opportunities. Other weight-saving tactics were employed as well. Advanced technology was
applied where practical to achieve a light and rigid unibody design using materials that offered higher
strength and lighter weight.
In its final form, the new Mazda MX-5 is more powerful, more capable, more comfortable, more useful
and offers several new features and further improves occupant protection. Yet, curb weight has only
increased 4 kg in Australian specification.
The process of evolution of this icon car is evident in the bold new look of the Mazda MX-5.
On the outside the most notable departure from the previous exterior shape is the elimination of the
classic “cordial bottle” shape of the contours. The nose and tail are smoothly tapered, as before, but
now the surfaces wrap smoothly between the wheels without narrowing.
The mudguard arches of the new Mazda MX-5 are notably more pronounced to accommodate the substantially
wider wheel track dimensions and to provide a more 'athletic' stance. Seventeen-inch wheels help define
the corners of the car and are consistent with Mazda’s design 'DNA'. The wide shoulder area of the body
tapers to a narrower sill to lend a light-on-its-feet look.
In profile, the Mazda MX-5 continues the low, flowing shoulder line established by the original with
side surfaces just below the shoulder providing prominent highlights between the wheels for a strong and
To accentuate the tapering shapes at each end of the Mazda MX-5, headlights and taillights are
positioned well inboard of the car’s corners. So, in spite of increases in wheelbase (+65 mm), length
(+20 mm), width (+40 mm), and height (+20 mm), a tight, compact look is maintained.
Inside, the cabin offers more head, leg, hip, shoulder and elbow room, a tilt adjustable steering
wheel and plenty of storage compartments.
Convertible buyers will appreciate the high-quality folding soft top, which features a Z-fold design
with one centrally located latch handle. It also has a glass rear window with demister.
In the lowered position, it fits flush and smooth. The top can be raised or lowered without undue
effort or stretching.
Mazda Australia expects to sell about 90 MX-5s a month, up from an average of 40 a month last year,
however sales are expected to average 140 a month during its first year on the market.
The all-new MX-5, as with all Mazda passenger cars, is protected by a three year/unlimited km
warranty and, like the RX-8, also benefits from 24 hour roadside assistance for the warranty period
and an advanced driving course.
Read our other stories on the new MX-5 from these links: