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All change for Mazda's next-gen MX-5

Familiar face: Mazda will incorporate its Kodo design language into the styling of the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5, due here next year. (Digital image by Luc Britten)

Kodo design language to feature on “shorter” fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 roadster

8 Aug 2014

MAZDA'S next-generation MX-5 will feature the most extensive changes in the model's 25-year history, and will be styled in line with the company's latest Kodo design language.

The Japanese car-maker will tear the covers off the fourth-generation version of its eagerly awaited roadster in early September at a simultaneous global unveiling in Japan, the United States and Europe, ahead of a local showroom debut next year.

The completely revised model will share its underpinnings with an all-new sportscar from the Fiat Chrysler stable, which is likely to end up as a Fiat badged model after it was initially mooted as a possible new Alfa Romeo roadster.

Speaking with media in Melbourne this week, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders confirmed that the latest iteration of the company's best-selling sportscar will be a significant departure from the current shape that went on sale in 2005.

“It's the biggest change in proportions and shape over the three generations,” he said.

Mr Benders said he had seen the car in the flesh, describing the “very nic.”

styling as “sort of an evolved Kodo”.

Kodo is Mazda's latest design language that can be found on most of its current passenger car line-up, including the Mazda6, Mazda3, CX-5 SUV and the forthcoming Mazda2 light hatch.

The new MX-5 is expected to carry more aggressive styling than outgoing model, and Mr Benders said it will be shorter than the 4020mm-long current model, with a stretched wheelbase and shorter overhangs.

As previously reported, Mazda's SkyActiv technology will strip up to 100kg of mass, taking the roadster's kerb weight under the one tonne mark and improving its handling.

It is unclear what powertrain Mazda will use for the new MX-5, but the 118kW/188Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the current version is likely to be retired. Reports have suggested that it could adopt an uprated version of the new SkyActiv 1.5-litre petrol engine that will soon see life in the Mazda2.

Pricing is also expected to change, with the roadster now facing tough competition from cheaper rivals in the sportscar segment, most notably the Toyota 86 which kicks off from $29,990, plus on-road costs, and tops out at $36,490.

Mr Benders would not be drawn on whether Mazda would lower the price of the MX-5 – which currently ranges from $47,280 to $49,885 – to better compete in the segment, only saying “it depends on how we package it.”

He said that the arrival of the Toyota 86 and its Subaru BRZ twin in mid-2012 opened up the sportscar segment to new, younger buyers, and anticipated that the new MX-5 would attract a more youthful clientele.

“What it did was brought in a whole new generation of younger buyers. I mean the MX-5, when it gets towards the end of its life it tends to be the loyal base, the older buyers. So it (the 86) certainly changed definitely from an entry point of view for younger people buying into that segment. It gave them a new car option.”“With the new generation, we want to get some of them back into MX-5 definitely,” he said.

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