1 Oct 2000
MAZDA has played a canny game with its legend-in-its-own-lifetime MX-5, by staying true to its original retro principles but managing to keep the rear-drive drop-top fresh at the same time.
The biggest update was in 1998 when the NB car arrived, with its major styling workover that included scrapping the pop-up headlights.
Initially, Mazda resisted using bigger, more powerful engines, choosing to retain the inline four-cylinder but progressively updating it.
From late 2000 to November 2002 (when a small update was incorporated), a 113kW/181Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine using variable valve timing was fitted that was replaced by a 107kW/168Nm version.
Both were fitted with a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox from early 2002.
At the same time, Mazda Australia finally capitulated to calls for more power by developing the sensational MX-5 SP.
A factory-endorsed turbocharger, stiffer suspension and extra body bracing were fitted to 100 cars, for a sizeable power jump: 150kW/280Nm.
The factory in Japan finally delivered its own variation, the 121kW/206Nm MX-5 SE Turbo, from March '04.
Special editions include the well-equipped 150 Titanium cars from March ’02 and the 100 Classics a year later.
Minor trim and equipment upgrades occurred in late ’02 and late ’03.
Regardless of which model, the MX-5 remains a great driver's car.