Saturday 18 October 2014

New Mazda MX-5 Roadster Launch

The 4th Generation Begins
As you'll no doubt be aware by now, the next generation of Mazda MX-5 was unveiled earlier this week. The car was revealed simultaneously at events in Spain, the USA, and Japan, and streamed live across the internet. In this post I wanted to talk about my initial thoughts on the exterior design and some of the new features that have been shown so far.
My first impressions were good. I first saw it on Thursday morning and couldn't stop looking at it afterwards. I was hoping the design would be quite dramatic and thanks to Mazda's Kodo language, I wasn't disappointed.
The ND model, which I'm assuming it will come to be known as, is the second "all new" design and represents a further evolution of the basic roadster setup. The engine has been mounted slightly further back than in the NC so keeps the front-midship layout. The cabin space has shifted further back too, the seats are now very close to the rear wheels. This gives the car a more purposeful look reminiscent of the Honda S2000 and BMW Z4 roadsters. The exhaust now has twin tailpipes offset to one side. I think a centre exit would have looked neater but we have the aftermarket for that. The rear badges don't include a "Mazda" text badge, and there is a new "SkyActiv Technology" badge along with updated designs for the "Roadster" and "MX-5" logo badges.

On seeing the car for the first time I could straight away recognise the influence of the Kodo design language with the combination of sweeping curves and aggressive sharp lines. Several exterior features are taken from the Shinari concept car, especially the rear LED lights, rear bumper corner features, and those front wings and sharp LED headlights. Daytime running lights have also been added as required on all new cars. There are also hints of Ferrari California and Jaguar F-Type to the exterior, with the wide 'hips' that taper off to the rear.
In terms of proportions, the new model is more compact than the NC. It is shorter and lower overall but also slightly wider. Thanks largely to the SkyActiv chassis, the weight is reduced by around 100kg from the NC model. The lighter weight allows the use of smaller brakes and wheels. The launch car was fitted with 8-spoke 16" alloys but it's unclear what the final trim options will be at the moment.

The interior looks to be another step up in quality and functionality. One of the first things I noticed was there are now only 3 circular air vents, the 4th vent has become a flat wide shape that blends into the dash. The 3 vents look to have a decorative ring as standard too. The steering wheel and digital instruments with white illumination are heavily influenced by the Shinari concept and look very similar to those found in the new Atenza, Axela, and upcoming Demio (Mazda 6, 3, and 2). The body coloured door panels add a nice touch of colour to the interior. Between the seats there is a storage compartment and windblocker arrangement which has been taken directly from the NC. The same goes for the rollbar covers which are probably changeable.
The roof uses the same single centre latch as the NC, but I did notice there doesn't seem to be any rear deck attachments for a hardtop. Perhaps Mazda decided not to offer one for this generation and will look at introducing a retractable hardtop version in a couple of years. The handbrake has switched sides now being mounted closer to the driver, there are heated leather seats, stitched leather dashboard, automatic climate control, and the new navigation entertainment screen mounted on the dash. This unit is controlled by the Multimedia Commander built into the centre console. The stereo also looks to have USB and 3.5mm Aux inputs, Bluetooth handsfree and smartphone integration is highly likely too. There will almost certainly be some form of keyless entry and of course there is a start button just to the left of the steering wheel.

The launch car was given a colour scheme very similar to the 25th Anniversary NC model with Soul Red paint and black windscreen surround, door mirrors, and alloy wheels. I would expect Soul Red to be one of the colours available when the car goes on sale. More details about engine specification, trim levels, and performance figures will be coming soon. I wonder if they will release a "4th Generation Limited" model to kick things off?

If you missed the live stream of the unveiling, you can catch some of the highlights in the videos below. For the Japanese launch video, you can skip to around the 18 minute mark to see the reveal.