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by Tim Beissmann

The updated Mazda MX-5 has been officially launched in Japan just days after a leaked brochure revealed details of the refreshed roadster.

As reported earlier this week, the revisions are mostly cosmetic, with the updated MX-5 sporting a more aggressive face and minor tweaks to the cabin.

The front benefits from a larger grille opening, reshaped fog light bezels and a new chin spoiler, while the interior scores dark grey gloss inserts across the dashboard and steering wheel and the option of a new tan colour for the leather upholstery.

Mazda says minor adjustments to the throttle management program have made new MX-5 models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission more responsive when accelerating out of corners, creating a more linear, nimble feel.

Revisions to the characteristics of the brake booster lead to enhanced braking ability, making it easier to control the front and rear load distribution.

The addition of an active bonnet, which raises the rear end of the bonnet to absorb impact energy and reduce the severity of head injuries to pedestrians, adds to the roadster’s safety credentials.

Mazda also says it has shed weight from the new MX-5’s front bumper, bonnet, 17-inch alloy wheels and internal wiring.

The existing 118kW/188Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine carries over unchanged into the new model.

The facelifted MX-5 will arrive in local showrooms around the end of this year. Mazda Australia’s Emma Karkar confirmed the local brand is hopeful of displaying a car on its stand at the 2012 Sydney motor show in October.

Sales of the Mazda MX-5 have dropped 61.6 per cent in Australia so far this year, falling from 185 in the first six months of 2011 to 71 in 2012.

Having run out of stock of the $42,460 entry-level soft-top Touring model last month, Mazda Australia’s current MX-5 line-up now starts at $47,200 for the entry-level Roadster Coupe manual and tops out at $51,390 for the six-speed auto Roadster Coupe Sports.

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