The update to the third-generation Mazda MX-5, a car which launched in 2006, comes as the last iteration before an all-new fourth-generation MX-5 makes its debut in 2014. It also confirms a hardtop-only strategy as Mazda officially drops the soft-top variant which accounted for under three percent of sales.
Having been on the market for over six years, the second facelift to the third-generation Mazda perfects the model’s overall appearance and engineering characteristics.
On the whole, the two-seater roadster has remained relatively unchanged but a number of minor changes come together to make this release the most refined Mazda MX-5 to date.
Mazda has changed the front bumper for a more aggressive design, deepened the grille by 47mm and reduced its thickness from 2.3mm to 1.9mm (for a weight reduction of 0.4kg).
Other minor exterior changes include the repositioning of the front license plate bracket on the modified front bumper – now also featuring more flare for better aerodynamics – and a newly designed set of 17-inch alloy wheels for the Roadster Coupe models.
The Japanese company has also replaced its “metropolitan grey” colour with a new “dolphin grey”.
On the inside the Mazda MX-5 remains largely unchanged, but does away with the dark silver decoration and aluminium finish on the steering wheel bezel for a more classy glossy dark grey shine.
The roadster still makes use of a relatively basic stereo system that lacks Bluetooth connectivity and an option for satellite navigation.
While the changes may be subtle on the outside, Japanese engineers have worked on what’s beneath the surface to improve on the MX-5’s already excellent driving dynamics.
Mazda has focused its efforts on cornering ability, particularly looking to refine the transition of G forces in and out of a corner.
To do that, the company has redesigned the accelerator pedal control system for a more responsive feel and more linear acceleration – only for manual transmission models.
The brake system has also undergone minor work, with a revised vacuum brake booster that Mazda says will help stablise the MX-5 between decelerating before a corner and transitioning to the accelerator.
The MX-5’s powerplant remains the staple 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, pumping out 118kW of power and 188Nm of torque.
The MX-5 is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, with the auto ‘box reaching maximum power 300rpm faster than the manual.
Mazda has added an Induction Sound Enhancer (ISE) for manual models, amplifying the “pulse sounds” generated when the throttle is opened.
The MX-5 retains its 50:50 longitudinal weight distribution. Check the photo gallery (link up the top) for more photos.
Read: 2013 Mazda MX-5 Review.
Mazda MX-5 Pricing:
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 6-sp manual transmission $47,280
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 6-sp automatic transmission $49,405
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Sports 6-sp manual transmission $49,885
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Sports 6-sp automatic transmission $52,010
Mazda MX-5 equipement level:
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Sports
Mazda MX-5 Specifications:
Engine type 2.0 litre in-line 4-cylinder 16-valve DOHC S-VT
Engine capacity 1,998 cc
Bore and stroke 87.5 x 83.1 mm
Compression ratio 10.8 : 1
Maximum power man 118 kW @ 7,000 rpm – auto 118 kW @ 6,700 rpm
Maximum torque 188 Nm @ 5,000 rpm
Throttle control Electronic (drive-by-wire)
Fuel system Electronic port fuel injection
Fuel tank capacity 50 litres
Recommended fuel Premium unleaded (95 RON or higher)
Fuel consumption (man & auto) combined 8.1 litres per 100km
Brake type front: Ventilated disc- rear: Solid disc
Brake diameter front 290 mm – rear: 280 mm
Steering type Hydraulic power assist steering
Suspension front Double wishbone -rear Multi-link
Turning circle kerb to kerb 9.4 m
Tyre size 205/45 R17
Wheel type / size Alloy / 17 x 7.0 J