Twenty Years of Mazda MX-5
1989 Mazda Roadster V Special|
10th February, 2009
This week Mazda celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Mazda MX-5, the
world’s best-selling light weight two-seat roadster.
On 9th February, 1989, Mazda Motor Corporation revealed a sporty little roadster at the Chicago Motor Show. The
latest version of that roadster will be
released in Australia in late March 2009.
These days, the Mazda MX-5’s popularity is unchallenged – more than 850,000 MX-5s have been sold on all continents
of the world (except Antarctica) and it remains the only two-seat roadster to combine the traditional front-engine,
rear-drive layout at an affordable price.
Mazda considers the MX-5 the purest exponent of Mazda’s so called Zoom-Zoom philosophy. The diminutive roadster
holds a special place in the hearts of Mazda employees and many car enthusiasts alike.
2001 Mazda Roadster|
None more so than Takao Kijima, Mazda MX-5's long-standing programme manager.
"I have been involved with the Mazda MX-5 since the project was first approved in 1986, and was lucky enough to be
a chassis engineer on the first model that established the MX-5 roadster’s reputation as an exciting and affordable
light weight sports car."
"I was honoured to succeed Toshihiko Hirai as MX-5 programme manager in 1995 and lead the team on the second and
third generation MX-5."
"For me, there is no greater joy than to look back on 23 years with the Mazda MX-5 and I look forward to 23
The first generation Mazda MX-5 launched in Australia in October 1989 with a price tag of $29,550. Reflecting its
purist intentions, it was powered by a spritely 88 kW, 1.6-litre engine matched to a five-speed manual transmission.
Like many cars of that era, the MX-5 did not have power steering, anti-lock brakes, traction control, airbags or even
a CD player. Accordingly, its kerb weight was just 960 kg.
2005 Mazda Roadster|
The facelift of the third generation MX-5 reflects the high levels of safety and technology expected of 21st century
cars. It has all those features missing from the first generation, including an iPod jack, cruise control, and even a
hard top roof which folds in 12 seconds.
The MX-5’s 2.0-litre engine is capable of revving to 7,500 rpm and makes 118 kW of power. It can be teamed with either
a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. And, where the original sported 14-inch alloy wheels, the 2009
model wears visually arresting 17-inch alloy wheels.
It’s fair to say the Mazda MX-5 has matured into a class act that has proven difficult to match.
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