Mazda plans major rethink of iconic roadster

Mazda’s design boss has told Autocar that the company is planning a radical rethink of the MX-5.

“The next MX-5 needs to be a big step,” Laurens Van den Acker said. “The last one was too conservative and we can’t do another car like that. We need to make it more dramatic and give it some balls.”

However, Van den Acker admitted that nothing would be done to change the MX-5’s core character. The fourth-generation car, due to appear in around 2012, will still be a no-nonsense small rear-drive roadster, albeit probably lighter and more fuel-efficient than the current model.

Another senior Mazda designer told us that while there has been lots of internal debate about the future of the company’s iconic roadster, no final decision has yet been taken on what it will look like. “Last time round [designing the current car] we came up with lots of radical proposals and we may reignite one of those,” said our insider. Another Mazda designer admitted that the intention was for the MX-5 to stop being completely different from the rest of the line-up, hinting that the likes of the Kazamai concept car will influence its design.

In the meantime the current MX-5 will have at least one facelift before it is replaced. Leaked patent documents showed recently that the forthcoming visual makeover is a very minor one. It will make its official debut at the Paris motor show in October.

Chas Hallett

Our Verdict

Mazda MX-5
Mazda's MX-5 has been established for decades as an affordable and enjoyable rear-drive convertible

The Mazda MX-5 is still great fun, and more grown up

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Comments
4

27 August 2008

[quote Autocar]“The next MX-5 needs to be a big step,” Lauren Van den Acker said. “The last one was too conservative and we can’t do another car like that. We need to make it more dramatic and give it some balls.”
[/quote]

Nice one - insult the owners of the current model - that'll win you sales ;-)

27 August 2008

[quote Autocar]“The last one was too conservative and we can’t do another car like that. We need to make it more dramatic and give it some balls.”

However, Van den Acker admitted that nothing would be done to change the MX-5’s core character[/quote]

Kinda a contradiction there...the MX-5 never was a hardcore racer, more of a cruiser which puts a smile on your face

27 August 2008

I'd never describe the MX-5 as a cruiser. I owned a MK1 model and it was loud at a cruise, with relatively short gearing and lots of wind and tyre noise, it felt far more at home being thrown down a twisty road. Couldn't agree more about the "smile on your face" bit though, I've driven cars with twice as much power that were half as much fun.

They do need to make it lighter though. I had a go in a MK3 and it definately felt a lot heavier, the driving position was significantly higher as well, and the steering was too assisted. I just felt a lot less connected with the road.

29 August 2008

Mazda are one of the few who are making the effort to reverse the recent trend to bigger, heavier cars. They have recognised that a light car can still be strong enough as withstand the obligatory crash tests, but not have the penalty of high fuel consumption and dull handling.

2012 will be about the right time for me to consider another MX5 if I don't buy an Elise before then.

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