A Milestone for Mazda!
Mazda are celebrating ! The MX-5 has reached the grand age of 25! Here at Rivervale contract hire and leasing we thought we would delve into the MX-5’s story to see why it’s the world’s best-selling 2 seater sports car.
It all began with the ideas of a few men. In 1976 Bob Hall was a journalist for Motor Trader Magazine and met with Kenichi Yamamoto and Gai Arai who were head of research and development at Mazda. When asked what he thought Mazda should be doing next, Hall said the car market needed a simple, classic, British, inexpensive sports car.
Fast-forward to 1981 and Hall now works in product planning for Mazdain the USA and Yamamoto is now Chairman of Mazda Motors…….. Remembering their earlier conversation Hall was given the go ahead to research his idea further. After many designs approval for what is now the MX-5 was granted in 1986 with codename P729 as the production phase was entered.
The MX-5 ended up with 5 specific design requirements;
- Compact and light whilst still adhering to global safety requirements.
- Comfortable for 2 adults in the cockpit, with no wasted space.
- Rear drive with engine positioned in front of the driver, but behind the front axle to achieve 50:50 weight distribution.
- Have tyre performance, road grip and dynamic stability maximised using a wishbone or multilink suspension system to connect all 4 wheels.
- A solid connection between the engine and rear mounted differential will be achieved using a power plant frame so throttle response is sharpened.
As well as all of these requirements Mazda are inspired by the Japanese motto ‘Jinba Ittai’ which translates as ‘horse and rider as one’ showing Mazda’s commitment to providing an enjoyable driving experience and excellent handling.
So in 1989 alongside the fall of the Berlin wall, the worldwide ban on Ivory and Rain main winning an academy award for best picture …………. the MX-5 was born. The M stands for Mazda, the X for eXperiment and 5 as it’s the 5th project. The first generation MX-5 was a lightweight sports car weighing 940 kg and was designed to be an affordable alternative to the other sports cars on the market at the time.
The second generation followed in 1998, the retractable headlamps of the first generation no longer passed pedestrian safety tests so were replaced by fixed ones, there was a slight increase in width, weight went up to 1000kg and there was increased aerodynamics. Roll bars were enlarged and the Variable Intake Control System was introduced.
Sales of the second generation declined, so in 2005 production of the third generation MX-5 began and with a good start as it won Car of The Year in Japan. Suspension was now a front wishbone/rear multilink combination, traction control and stability control were introduced and the Coupe Convertible was launched with a 3 piece folding hardtop.
Since the launch of the MX-5 nearly 945,000 have been sold and so to celebrate the 25th anniversary there is a special edition available. With only 1000 made, 750 of those available to UK customers, it is a limited edition each individually numbered. Soul red metallic paint is contrasted with Brilliant Black styling accents. Inside there is a hand crafted deco panel and embossed headrests. The 2.0 litre model can achieve 0-62 in 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 136 mph.
And as if that’s not exciting enough the fourth generation which is due to be revealed in September has even more to look forward to with SkyActiv Technology to maximise fuel economy performance, i-ELoop – the world’s first brake energy regeneration system and i-STOP that allows drivers to restart almost instantly.
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12 August 2014
Written by Rivervale