All-New Third Generation Mazda MX-5 - Jinba Ittai | Part Two

Jinba Ittai - oneness between horse and rider

While many aspects of the third-generation Mazda MX-5 are even better than its predecessor, it retains all the original virtues for which the Mazda MX-5 is rightly famous. All MX-5 generations have reflected the Japanese ideal of Jinba Ittai, the symbiosis between rider and horse. Instead of focusing on pure speed, Mazda developers worked to achieve the ideal of a balanced driving machine that provides skilful drivers with high levels of driving enjoyment without the need of a large-displacement engine.

Vehicle weight and weight distribution are crucial factors in achieving this ‘driving balance’. Painstaking adherence to a “gram strategy” paid off, and despite featuring more standard equipment and a stiffer body shell, the new Mazda MX-5 is only about 10 kg heavier (depending on version) than the outgoing model.

In order to deliver the maximum in driving fun, the engine of the new Mazda MX-5 has been moved 135 mm further to the rear of the vehicle, and the battery and fuel tank are now positioned closer to the car’s centre of gravity. As a result, the third-generation Mazda MX-5 with two passengers achieves an ideal 50:50 weight distribution over the front and rear axles.

This ‘ideal’ weight distribution, combined with the longer wheelbase, wider track, lower centre of gravity and reduced ‘moment of inertia’ (thanks to moving heavy components towards the centre of the vehicle), has produced a sports car that is even more agile and more fun to drive than the original.

Evolution with the athletic build of a true sports car

The most successful open two-seater sports car of all time, the new Mazda MX-5 is still an affordable, fun to drive roadster with harmonious proportions and no unnecessary frills - still clearly recognisable as a Mazda MX-5. However, the new Mazda MX-5 has the athletic build of a true sports car.

Mazda designers renounced the “cola bottle waist” of both previous models while increasing the car’s width and giving the fenders a more prominent design. The vehicle’s low, flowing side sills, a slightly wedged shape profile and a body that tapers slightly inwards at the front and back - are retained. Thus the new Mazda MX-5 is a “synthesis of modernity and tradition,” as MX-5’s Chief Designer, Yasushi Nakamuta, defined it.

The wider cockpit has more hip, shoulder and elbow room, and space to fit side airbags for the first time. Thanks to the 65 mm longer wheelbase (2,330 mm), people as tall as 1.86 m can comfortably fit into the car - previously, it was a bit cramped for people over 1.80 m.

The soft top is made of high quality material and can be opened and closed by using a centrally-placed latch in just six seconds and using only one hand. The Z-fold soft top, when completely folded back, sits flush with the boot lid, which does away with the need for a tonneau cover. And you don’t even have to get out of the car to open or close the top.

For the inside, MX-5 designers sought to create a higher quality feel, as well as combining new materials. Mazda MX-5’s solid quality finish is achieved by using decorative piano black embellishments and quality detailing on features such as the driving instruments, whose needles seem to twitch in anticipation of the driving enjoyment to come, when the car’s ignition is switched on.

The ventilation system uses additional air vents on the centre stack and in the foot well, to extend Mazda MX-5’s open-air driving season considerably. Now you can drive the new Mazda MX-5 comfortably in air temperatures from 10 to 30° C. Quarter windows placed at the bottoms of the A-pillars, along with a new, more efficient aero board wind-blocker, make driving with the top down even more comfortable.

Mazda MX-5’s new interior has more practical storage compartments and the larger boot can now hold beverage cases, containing 12 1.5-litre bottles, carried upright.

continues... | Part Three
Published 13 November 2005 Melanie Carter
 

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