1 Aug 2015
MAZDA finally released the fourth-generation ND-series MX-5 in Australia in August 2015 – though only in 1.5-litre Roadster guise the 2.0-litre versions are slated to follow in November 2015.
More than $15,000 cheaper than the outgoing NC Series II 2.0L folding hard-top version, the Japanese-built two-seater rag-top was in eight years of development.
Cutting weight (by 91kg on Australian-spec cars) and clipping the overall size over the preceding model were crucial, with the 1.5L Roadster manual tipping the scales at 1009kg.
Designed at the company’s Hiroshima HQ, Japanese calligraphy-inspired elements prevail throughout. Reduced overhangs have resulted in the shortest MX-5 ever, while the bodyshell is around 20kg lighter, benefiting from an increase in aluminium components.
Compared to before, the occupants sit 15mm closer together, with a seating hip point that is 20mm lower “for a greater sense of oneness with the car” as well as an improved centre of gravity, backed up by an engine that is mounted 13mm lower and 15mm further rearward.
Mazda says opening and closing the lighter fabric roof is easier than before, as it uses loaded springs to assist with the erection of the structure.
Both engines are naturally aspirated 16-valve four-cylinder SkyActiv-G units, with the 1.5-litre developing an impressive 96kW of power at 7000rpm and 150Nm of torque at 4800rpm, while the 2.0-litre ups the ante to 118kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4600rpm.
Both drive the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual (with limited-slip differential) or Aisin-sourced (but Mazda-tuned) six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission with paddle shifts.
The MX-5 moves to electric rack-and-pinion steering, with a dual pinion system for a more connected and linear feel, while the brakes are vented discs up front and solid discs at the rear.