The All New Mazda MX-5 | Part Three

Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

Mazda’s “Gram Strategy”? The Ultimate Weight-Saving Imperative

There’s a natural tendency for curb weight to rise when car manufacturers respond to market demands for more comfort, greater occupant protection, and better environmental responsibility. Realizing that this is contrary to the JInba Ittai goal and that extra weight has a dramatically negative influence on driving, cornering, and braking performance, Mazda engineers made every gram count. (In the English measurement system used in the US and elsewhere, one pound equals 454 grams.) Their “gram strategy” assessed weight in the smallest possible increments. For example, simplifying the rear-view mirror’s design trimmed 84 grams (0.19 lb). But applying this strategy throughout every nook and cranny of the MX-5’s design proved to be a very effective means of building a very light sports car that met all of its market demands.

Exterior Design

Simple. Contemporary. Fun. Friendly. These are words that capture the essence of a successful lightweight sports car. But achieving simple, clean elegance in a new design that will appeal to a large number of customers located around the globe is no small feat. The MX-5 design process required over a year of dedicated effort in three studios, an endeavor that was led by Mazda’s chief designer Yasushi Nakamuta. To inspire his team with the theme of the new third-generation car, Nakamuta provided these words of guidance, “The MX-5 has become an icon for the lightweight sports car. As a result, the new MX-5 should convey FUN and MODERN styling while paying homage to the original (first-generation) design. It should exemplify lightweight sports car functionality and athletic solidity. By embodying the simple, approachable design elements in a fresh way, it will be quickly and easily identified.”

Interior Design

The goal of the interior design effort was to stimulate excitement for the joy of driving an open lightweight sports car unencumbered by complexity. One key change from the second-generation MX-5 is providing more elbow room and seat travel to accommodate a wider range of statures without losing the intimate feeling and handy ergonomics of a lightweight sports car.

Driving Dynamics
Whether it's called JInba Ittai, rider and horse, or happy-face motoring, driving fun in a highly responsive open roadster is a cross-cultural experience that is appreciated in every corner of the globe. Mazda revived this simple pleasure with the launch of the original MX-5 in 1989. With the arrival of a third-generation roadster this year, Mazda engineers seized the opportunity to continue the best features from two previous models while adding new MX-5 dimensions to assure that Mazda's Zoom-Zoom spirit continues to thrive in the 21st century. Takao Kijima's development team identified five core requirements for achieving of a fun-to-drive personality:
  • Lightness
  • Optimal weight distribution
  • A priority on handling
  • A consistently nimble, natural feel
  • Dynamic-feeling performance
continues... | Part Four
Published 28 June 2005 Melanie Carter
 

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