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

  • g40steve 26 Nov 2012

    TheArchitect said:
    I cant remember the exact articles but I have a feeling evo, autocar and maybe on here mentioned, updated spring rates & geometry, improved engine design (more powerful in later cars), throttle mapping been updated, and early cars had the ride height increased to pass crash tests that subsequently was lowered in late models (might be wrong on that last one though). All the sort of things you would expect from a facelift these days.
    Everything you mention as an improvement can be made to mk3's.

    Even the latest model will benefit from a full geo setup.

  • TheArchitect 26 Nov 2012

    I cant remember the exact articles but I have a feeling evo, autocar and maybe on here mentioned, updated spring rates & geometry, improved engine design (more powerful in later cars), throttle mapping been updated, and early cars had the ride height increased to pass crash tests that subsequently was lowered in late models (might be wrong on that last one though). All the sort of things you would expect from a facelift these days.

  • rfn 26 Nov 2012

    TheArchitect said:
    Having owned an early MK3 I'm tempted to go test drive the latest facelift. I liked the Mk3 a lot and it was a good car but left me feeling a little cold which other cars I had before seemed more fun. Would I own another early MK3 no, but every article I read seems to say they've improved it making me wonder if the current version would be more 'fun'.
    That's an interesting comment TheArchitect - could you expand?
    I did 45k in a 2006 Mk3 2.0 Sport, and now have a 2012 Mk3.5 Sport Tech RC, and I'm not sure that there's "much" improved?

  • TheArchitect 26 Nov 2012

    Having owned an early MK3 I'm tempted to go test drive the latest facelift. I liked the Mk3 a lot and it was a good car but left me feeling a little cold which other cars I had before seemed more fun. Would I own another early MK3 no, but every article I read seems to say they've improved it making me wonder if the current version would be more 'fun'.

  • Andy ap 26 Nov 2012

    myhandle said:
    They appear to be attempting to make the front look more like the RX8.
    I was gonna say the same thing but then name a car manufacturer now where all their models don't look the same. Gone are the days when cars were easily identifiable and had theyre own unique shape. Thats not to say of course that either the MX5 or the RX8 is a bad looking car.

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