Mazda MX-5 (2015): initial images regarding fresh MX-5 Mk4

Saturday, October 4th, 2014 - Mazda
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The 2015 Mazda MX-5 was unveiled today – updating a modern classic with the fourth generation of the back-to-basics roadster. The new MX-5 is due in UK showrooms from summer 2015, priced around £19, 000.

These first official pictures of the new MX-5 reveal a trim two-seater which evolves the sports car silhouette that’s become such a familiar sight on our roads since launch in 1989. Some will find its looks radical – shockingly different details abound.

The Mazda MX-5 Mk4 has adopted many of the accents of the company’s latest Kodo design language, but given a twist. Just look at the rear lamps, reminiscent of a Bangle-era BMW Z4’s. It’s an MX-5, alright, but rebooted with modern Mazda touches to survive well into the next quarter century.

And it’ll have to; MX-5s typically last on sale for a good eight to nine years. Are you a fan of the look? Sound off in our comments below.

Mazda MX-5 (2015): news and nuggets from the launch

Unveiled at simultaneous events in Barcelona, Monterey in California and Tokyo, the new MX-5 is the most significant relaunch in the roadster’s history, says Mazda. They’re keen to hark back to the simplicity of the smash-hit original. Sounds good to us.

Even better news is that it’s the smallest MX-5 yet and at 3915mm long, it’s now truly supermini compact. It’s 105mm shorter than the Mk3 and 20mm lower to the ground, giving it a low-slung, road-hugging stance. It’s a centimetre wider, too, making the two-seater convertible look planted.

The overhangs front and rear shrink by a good 90mm, having the effect of pushing the axles towards the extremities.

The MX-5’s been on a diet: Mk4 is lighter than Mk3

The shrinkage combines with the use of lightweight aluminium for the bonnet, boot lid and bumper assemblies front and rear to trim the kerbweight. Good news indeed, Mazda claiming a 100kg drop model-for-model from the outgoing 2005 car. That suggests a kerbweight around 1050kg.

No official weight is issued yet, but it’s not quite as light as the 995kg Mk1. Clearly, this modest weight reduction should benefit, well, just about everything, really. Handling, performance, economy and emissions should all improve by lugging around less unnecessary heft.

It’s all part of the company’s Gram Strategy, which we heard much about on the previous MX-5 launched nine years ago. Engineers scrupulously went through the rear-drive architecture, shaving grammes here, redesigning nodes there.

But will the new Mazda MX-5 still retain its sports car crown?

The omens are good. As well as reducing weight overall, Mazda says it has concentrated the bulk as near as possible in the middle of the car. Weight balance is claimed to be 50: 50 front: rear and as much of that mass is pushed towards the centre of the car.

The four-cylinder engines are pushed back in the nose, for instance, while the fabric soft-top is lighter than before. Mazda claims this has reduced both the centre of gravity and the moments of yaw inertia.

Cutaway of new 2015 Mazda MX-5 shows how low engine and drivetrain are packaged

In short, the MX-5 should be pointy and agile to punt along your favourite back road. They’ve not cut any corners on the suspension, either. More expensive double wishbones are deployed up front while a multilink rear axle keeps the driven wheels controlled and at the optimum angle of dangle.

Harking back to the Mk1

Engineers at the launch frequently namechecked 1960s British sports cars such as the Lotus Elan, which inspired the original 1989 MX-5. We’re heartened to hear them resetting their aims to achieve the purity of the Mk1, but won’t know if they’ve achieved it until we drive the car in early 2015.

‘Each successive model of the past three generations of MX-5 has witnessed small increases in body size and weight in response to [customer] demands, ’ said Nobuhiro Yamamoto, Mazda’s programme manager.

‘Now, in developing the fourth-generation MX-5, we returned to the original aims of the first generation that resurrected the culture of the lightweight sportscar and then took on the challenge of embodying the fundamental pleasure of driving an open-top, lightweight sports car in a product suited to today’s needs. ’

Engines and spec for the 2015 Mazda MX-5

Petrol-only Skyactiv-G direct-injection engines are available on the new MX-5, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. No details have been issued yet, but we expect four-cylinders in 1. 5 and 2. 0 guises. Downsizing brings commensurate economy gains.

Alas, Mazda has had to junk hydraulic assistance in favour of an electrically assisted set-up in the name of CO2 emissions. But the entgineers claim the system is just as pointy as today’s steering feel. ‘Taut’ and ‘chuckable’ are phrases used by Mazda types who’ve driven it. They would say that, wouldn’t they…

Rear of new 2015 Mazda MX-5 is one of its most controversial bits

And because of that more bijou size and lower mass, plenty of the ancillaries can be smaller, too. A virtuous circle, at last! Modest 195/50 R16 tyres were worn by the first display vehicles out here in Barcelona – a reminder that less is often more in MX-5 world.

Inside the MX-5 cabin

Although the wheelbase is trimmed by 15mm to 2315mm, Mazda pledges interior space is not harmed. There’s a snug sports car vibe at play here, although the MX-5’s cabin is perked up by the company’s new touchscreen interface; with MZD Connect you can now pair your smartphone to the car and there are new speakers in the headrests to pump out your cruising playlist.

The roof flops down in just a few seconds by hand (a folding hard-top arrives later; 80% of Brits choose it) and Kevin Rice, the new European design chief, claims they modelled the car to make sure the occupants look especially good with the soft-top stowed away. Good news for poseurs from the Pacific coast to Penzance.

Mazda MX-5 (2015): tech spec

Length 3915mm Width 1730mm Height 1235mm Wheelbase 2315mm Engine Four-cylinder direct-injection petrol, 1496cc and 1998cc (est) Suspension Double wishbones (f), multi-link (r) Steering Rack and pinion, electric power assistance Tyres 195/50 R16.

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