A legend always begins with an idea. The Mazda MX-5, the world’s best selling two-seater sports car was only a hint of an idea back in March 1979. American journalist Bob Hall had the idea of a lightweight, two-seater roadster which after surviving sceptics was finally produced and shown to the world at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989. Overwhelmingly positive reactions to the Mazda MX-5 proved that the look of a classic roadster was still very appealing, but true addiction was to come for owners on the road.
The original MX-5 was focused on reducing weight, it tipped the scales at just 955 kilograms proving to be a truly lightweight sports car. It boasted a front-engine, rear wheel-drive layout that featured exceptional driving dynamics. The Mazda MX-5 was born. The first generation MX-5 was launched in 1990 in the UK and set pulses racing and became an instant success, producing 115ps and a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds.
Eight years after the original MX-5 took the automotive world by storm, a new second generation version was launched keeping to the original design concept of a lightweight roadster. The second generation now produced more power and was more aerodynamic, even though it was slightly larger, it benefited from additional levels of specification yet only weighed around 40kg more. The second generation MX-5 was to become the most popular two-seat sports car of its era.
Third-Generation MX-5 – The “Gram Strategy” Begins
The third-generation MX-5 was launched at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show lower to the ground and more athletic than any of the previous models. Larger wheel arches housed new 17” alloy wheels and although dimensionally slightly larger these changes had no effect on the classic roadster look the MX-5 was loved for. Thanks to Mazda’s gram strategy the new MX-5 only weighed only 10kg’s more than the second generation thanks to painstakingly reviewing every gram. These weight saving techniques were to be used on all next-generation Mazda vehicles a process that continues to this day.
The 1.6 engine was replaced by a new 2.0-litre 160ps engine with an all-new 6-speed gearbox. With a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and improved stiffness saw the improvement of handling and driving dynamics. In 2006, Mazda again did the unexpected by introducing the first-ever power retractable hardtop MX-5 that retracted in just 12 seconds. To this day the Mazda MX-5 continues to be the best selling two-seater sports car ever and remains true to its roots as a lightweight roadster.