Mazda MX-5 - The World's Favourite Roadster | Part Two

Significant bodyshell strength improvements were achieved by enlarging and thickening the side sills and other key structural elements. Mazda engineers also improved safety through the use of anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). The SRS airbag system for both driver and passenger is standard, and the three-point seatbelts now come with pre-tensioners and load limiters. The adoption of a passenger seat airbag-deactivation system allows the use of a Mazda-approved baby seat.

Key mechanical changes included the use of Sequential Valve Timing for the 1.8-litre DOHC engine, plus improved chassis and body performance, for more satisfying driving pleasure and safety. The new 1.8-litre engine provides a top output of 107kW (146 bhp) at 7,000 rpm and maximum torque of 168Nm at 5,000 rpm. The result is acceleration from 0-to-62 mph in just 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 129 mph for the six-speed 1.8i Sport.

The interior of the Mazda MX-5 received significant attention, including the adoption of new high-back bucket seats for increased body support. There was also a new centre console, while the speedometer and tachometer boasted white faces with amber illumination and chrome-plated rims. The 1.8i Sport has a black leather interior, including sports seats with built-in cushion warming, plus leather gearshift knob and Nardi steering wheel. Detail improvements have also been made to convenience features such as the cup holders and centre console box.

The Mazda MX-5 features the company’s new modular audio system with radio and cassette player for all but the range-topping 1.8i Sport, which has a radio and single CD player. A variety of upgrade kits can be added or exchanged, allowing customers greater freedom of audio choice.

All Mazda MX-5s now feature power door locks, electric windows, ABS, security alarm, an engine immobiliser, electric and heated door mirrors, an electric aerial, a ‘low-fuel’ warning light and ISOFIX anchorage points in the front passenger seat to accept a child safety seat.

The flagship model, the 1.8i Sport, also has remote central locking with boot release, a chrome fuel filler cap, more attractive cloth soft top, Bilstein dampers and a limited-slip differential as standard.

Prices for the three-strong line up of Mazda MX-5 cars in the UK range from £14,995 for the 1.6i and rise to £17,995 for the 1.8i Sport.

Mazda MX-5 1.8i Sport / Technical Specification
Engine  
Displacement 1839 cc
Maximum output 146 bhp at 7,000 rpm
Maximum torque 168 Nm at 5,000 rpm
Transmission  
Manual gearbox 6 speed
Differential rear-mounted limited-slip
Performance  
Acceleration 8.4 sec (0 to 62 mph)
Top Speed (mph) 129
Dimensions  
Length 3957 mm
Wheelbase 2265 mm
Width 1680 mm
Height 1225 mm
Weight 1100 kg
Published 15 January 2003 Melanie Carter

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