The diminutive drop-top two-seater sportscar will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with an all-new model, which will be launched simultaneously in Europe and the US on September 3.
Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Limited Edition. Photo:AFP
It may be a common sight on roads all around the world but back in 1989 when Mazda took the wraps off the original MX5 it was more than a little daring. Small, curvaceous, with the engine up front and the power going to the back wheels, it was an homage to the great British roadsters of the past -- the Lotus Elan, the TR 6 or the Austin Healy -- cars that were incredible fun to drive but that technology, reliability and the need for greater practicality had left standing on the hard shoulder -- often with the indicators flashing, the hood up and steam bellowing from the engine bay.
But that's what made the MX5 (called the Miata in the US and simply the Roadster in its native Japan) so great. It offered all of that fun, but was affordable and came with that guarantee of Japanese bullet-proof reliability.
Twenty-five years on, the car has undergone three compete makeovers and has sold over 900,000 examples and counting, making it the most successful roadster in history and one with a fiercely loyal fanbase.
So Mazda is pulling out all of the stops when it comes to unveiling the latest generation. For the US reveal it has roped in Duran Duran to perform live at the event -- apparently, according to Mazda's marketing department, because they both made their debuts in the 1980s and "captured the hearts and imagination of an entire generation."
As well as the American leg of the reveal, which will be held in Monterey, California, there will also be simultaneous events in Barcelona and Tokyo.
But what can we expect from the new car? The simple answer is more of the same. A very well set-up chassis and almost 50/50 weight distribution for neutral handling and, of course, rear-wheel drive. The MX-5 has never been about out-and-out performance, rather about having fun at any speed, so expect a choice of 1.5-liter and 2-liter petrol engines and a six-speed gearbox.
However, there are whispers that Mazda is considering a diesel option and potentially a more muscular power plant for the US market. Some have suggested that it could even be offered as a hard-top coupe too, for the first time, following the success of the equally affordable and entertaining Toyota GT86.
Mazda is keeping quiet about exactly what to expect but it is aware that it can't disappoint existing fans and that it also has a responsibility to attract new devotees to the little roadster.
"The MX-5 is the product that best epitomizes Mazda's convention-defying spirit and our love of driving," says Mazda Motor Europe President and CEO Jeff Guyton. "It has been grabbing people's attention for 25 years, and with the new-generation model we're aiming to share this passion with yet another generation of drivers."