MX-5 gets a refresh


The realisation that Mazda’s current MX-5 has been on sale for seven years now took us rather by surprise. Arguably, it still feels like a relatively new design, but in fact if the lifespan of the previous generation is anything to go by, it’s actually due for replacement about now.

Hard-top and soft-top options still available
Hard-top and soft-top options still available
Nevertheless, Mazda’s tie-up with Alfa Romeo is obviously putting things on hold somewhat, with the new model not scheduled to arrive until 2014. Consequently, Mazda has resorted to giving the existing range a bit of a spruce-up. It’ll be the second facelift for this generation, which some might say is one too many, but it has at least been carried off reasonably well.

The most obvious tweak is to the new front bumper, which has been designed not only to look a bit fresher (and less smiley), but also to improve aerodynamics around the fog light and grille areas. Staying up front, there’s now a new active bonnet system, which lifts the trailing edge of the bonnet in the event of a pedestrian impact, allowing the MX-5 to meet future EU regulations on pedestrian safety without resorting to a raised bonnet line and, consequently, an unseemly bloated front end.

All models now come with more toys
All models now come with more toys
Under the skin, not much has changed either, with the exception of two seemingly small changes that might make a notable difference in the way the car drives – hopefully, for the better. First up is a revision of the fly-by-wire throttle software, which Mazda says will improve throttle response and give ‘more linear, nimble acceleration’. In addition, Mazda’s boffins have been playing around with the vacuum brake booster in order to improve front-rear brake load distribution, which should improve braking into bends.

Of course, there’ll also be a few detail changes to specification and trim, too, including the addition of a model that features standard satellite navigation for the first time. Climate control is now standard on every model, too. This might detract from the purity that’s cherished by so many MX-5 owners and enthusiasts, but Mazda reckons it’s what new MX-5 buyers are looking for.

Spot the difference: how it did look
Spot the difference: how it did look
The revised range still starts with the 1.8i SE, albeit at the slightly higher price of £18,495, and now tops out with the 2.0i Sport Tech Nav at £23,295. It’ll go on sale on December 1.

Of course, if all this is a bit too much trickery for your liking, and you're keen to show your allegiance to the original, then for a very reasonable sum, we can supply you with with one or other of the delightful MX-5 T-shirts now available in the PH Shop. And if that wasn't enough, we've also got MX-5 hoodies and mugs too.

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Comments (65) Join the discussion on the forum

  • myhandle 23 Nov 2012

    They appear to be attempting to make the front look more like the RX8.

  • HorneyMX5 23 Nov 2012

    What it really needed was a 1.6 turbo option to offer a lower MPG and CO2 model but I guess they're savign that for the MK4 in 2014.

  • em177 23 Nov 2012

    HorneyMX5 said:
    What it really needed was a 1.6 turbo option to offer a lower MPG and CO2 model but I guess they're savign that for the MK4 in 2014.
    That would absolutely destroy the whole appeal of the car if they go FI in my opinion. The mx5 has always been about ragging every last inch out of a normally aspirated, revvy engine. A turbo motor just doesn't suit the cars character. I've had several Mk1's and Mk2's and will consider getting into a stripped Mk3 when the prices drop a little further.

    Edit as didn't notice you said 'turbo option'





  • s m 23 Nov 2012

    'even sharper throttle response' ???

    Better than a cable throttle?

  • ugg10 23 Nov 2012

    Can someomne please explain -
    "First up is a revision of the fly-by-wire throttle software, which Mazda says will improve throttle response and give ‘more linear, nimble acceleration’"

    Assuming that there are no changes to the mechanics or the fueling map of the engine how does changing the relationship between the foot/pedal and the way the throttle butterfly opens create more acceleration (assumed power)? The only way I can see it to also change the fuel/throttle position relationship inthe ECU map and richens up the mixture at mid aacceleration load which would result in a change to the mpg and therefore possibly the tax band etc.

    Cynic mode on - Mazda were scratching their heads to justify the new model and this sounds like it has been writen by a marketting bod not an engineer - cynic model off.

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