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July 21, 2019

The Mazda MX-5 Has to Thank Its Loyal Philippine Fanbase

With Mazda celebrating the 30th anniversary of the MX-5 this year, it’s important to note its significance in the Philippine market.

When the Japanese brand was handled by Columbian Autocar Corporation in the 1990s, they didn’t seem to know what to do with a low-powered, open-top, two-seater sportscar. It came to a point where if you bought a Mazda MPV, you’ll get an MX-5 for free. Literally, it was like they were telling you, “buy a car for your family, and you can reward yourself on the weekends.”

Sure, this scheme helped flush out the MPV and MX-5’s remaining inventory then, but little would anyone know that it will sow the seeds of a strong and loyal MX-5 fanbase in the country.

Fast forward to 2014, just as the world saw the newly introduced fourth-generation “ND” model, Mazda Philippines managed to snag 25 units of the outgoing “NC” decked out in special 25th Anniversary Edition garb. Limited to just 1,000 units worldwide, the Philippines accounts for 2.5 percent of the total run. At that point, everyone thought its distributor, Bermaz Auto Philippines, was crazy to gamble getting so much of these. It sold out in just three months.

Today, the fourth-generation model or “ND” is the best-selling MX-5 ever in the Philippines. With 641 units finding homes, it’s managed to outsell the first- (NA), second- (NB), and third- (NC) generations combined. It’s also made the Philippines the largest market of MX-5 in Asia outside Japan, surpassing countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

The number is still smaller than the likes of the Ford Mustang which sells an average of 400 units a year, but it’s nonetheless impressive considering its niche market. And with two body styles, a traditional soft top and a retractable fastback; and two transmission options, there’s an MX-5 for just about everyone.

The culmination of Mazda’s achievement with the MX-5 is capped off with the unveiling of the 30th Anniversary Edition model. With just a 3,000-unit global production run, Mazda Philippines got 30 units—a one percent allocation. This is a feat considering that the MX-5 was once considered, “impossible to sell.” However, in the 30 years since its launch, thanks to a small but loyal base who celebrate driving, the dream of the roadster lives on.

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