IT BROUGHT the joy of open-top motoring to a new generation and at the New York motor show this week, the Mazda MX-5 is celebrating 25 years as the world’s best-selling, two-seater sports car.
To mark the occasion there’s (another) new special edition, this one called, unsurprisingly, the Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition. “Miata”, the MX-5’s US-only name, indicates the new model is available only there, for the moment. Mazda UK wouldn’t confirm whether the car might be available in the UK, though conceded that given the MX-5’s record for special edition spin-offs, anything was possible.
Meanwhile, also at the New York motor show, Mazda is showing the chassis and powertrain for next year’s all-new MX-5. Given how central to the model’s appeal these components are, it’s not as geeky a decision as it might appear. Fans of the MX-5 can breathe a sigh of relief: the chassis features the same longitudinal engine/rear-wheel drive arrangement of previous models.
Mazda says the new car will feature the most compact configuration of any MX-5, with the engine located closer to the vehicle’s centre. At the same time, the car’s centre of gravity will be lower than ever before. Both changes should sharpen the model’s handling still further.
Commenting on the new chassis, Takashi Yamanouchi, chairman of Mazda said, “The history of the MX-5 is one of changing everything in order to stay the same.”
A brief history of the Mazda MX-5
Mk 1 (1989-1998)
The first-generation model is launched at the Chicago motor show on February 10, 1989, to universal acclaim. Owes its inspiration to lightweight British two-seater sports cars of earlier years, though not their tendency to leak and break down. Has pop-up headlights and a 1.6-litre engine, later also offered in 1.8-litre form.
Buyer’s notes: Arguably the prettiest and purest MX-5. Tired examples abound at low prices but cherished ones can easily cost as much as a pristine Mk 2. Watch for rusty sills and A-pillars, damaged sub frames and poor paint repairs disguising horrors beneath. Check cam belt has been changed recently, the gearbox works precisely and the transmission is quiet. Also check alignment of all four wheels. Grey import Eunos versions should hold no fears, were better equipped and are cheaper than UK MX-5s. Great spares and services network.
Pay this: Condition more important than age or what special edition it is, with £1,000 buying a tidy car with service history, an MOT and around 100,000 miles on the clock.
Mk 2 (1998-2005)
Almost as accomplished as the Mk 1, though purists maintain the original car, which is considerably lighter, has the edge in handling. Safety legislation rules out pop-ups in favour of boring flush-fitting headlamps. As before, offered with choice of 1.6 and 1.8-litre petrol engines. Better equipped than Mk 1 with greater emphasis on comfort and refinement, which only serves to broaden model’s appeal still further. Facelift in 2001 brings small styling tweaks intended to make the car look sportier and more aggressive.
Buyer’s notes: Mk 1 guidance, above, applies. Grey-import Eunos versions much rarer.
Pay this: Again, condition more important than age or what special edition it is. Prices start at around £1,000 for early examples with 100,000 miles, rising to £4,000 for the last cars in mint condition.
Mk 3 (2005-on)
Buyer’s and tester’s notes: see driving.co.uk review