Mazda has updated the third series MX-5. As well as a new look, the 2.0-litre engine, manual gearbox and front suspension geometry have all been revised. Following its debut at the Paris Motor Show
, the facelifted model will go on sale in spring 2009.
Visually, the grille and headlamps have been updated to echo other Mazda models'. The sills have been reshaped and the rear bumper and tail lights have also been restyled. As well as refreshing the roadster's appearance the changes are supposed to improve the aerodynamics to the benefit of high-speed stability, quietness and fuel economy.
To differentiate the folding hardtop Roadster Coupé from the soft-top MX-5 various components are chrome finished, including the grille, door handles and headlamp bezels. Extra sound deadening material is fitted to the Roadster Coupé too, to give it a more refined and upmarket feel.
For the first time in Europe, Mazda will offer an automatic transmission on the MX-5. For optimum control paddles behind the steering wheel allow manual gearchanges even when the transmission is in "Drive". The system is called Direct Activematic (DAM) and was designed to allow the driver to change down in anticipation of a corner, to overtake or for engine braking. The transmission features an "M" mode for fully manual control while automatic operation benefits from Active Adaptive Shift (AAS), which evaluates the road conditions and driving style and adjusts the gearchange points accordingly.
Manual MX-5s also benefit from gearbox revisions. Carbon coated synchromesh has been fitted to all gears from first to fourth. Gear ratios have been revised to improve economy while reduced friction within the engine and low rolling resistance tyres also help eke out a few more miles per gallon.
The 2.0-litre engine has been updated with a forged crankshaft, fully floating pistons and redesigned valve springs to increase the rev limit to 7,500rpm and maximum power point from 6,500 to 7,000rpm. Peak power output is unchanged at 158bhp and torque remains 138lb.ft at 5,000rpm. The modified power unit is only available with the six-speed manual gearbox.
Changes to the front suspension geometry have lowered the front roll centre by 26mm. This is designed to provide a more natural feel and linear response to steering inputs. Other suspension components have been retuned to suit the new geometry.
John Lambert - 4 Oct 2008