Monday, October 14, 2019

Why the Mazda MX-5 Remains Loved for 30 Years

Signs pointed out, “Welcome home [to] Hiroshima” around Mazda’s Miyoshi Proving Ground. Here, around 2,300 MX-5 descended onto the track in celebration of the roadster’s 30th anniversary; also in attendance were 102 members from the Miata Club of the Philippines and the MX-5 Club of Malaysia. There were other countries in attendance as well from Australia to Thailand to Italy to the United Kingdom, but none as big as the contingent from the Philippines.

And it’s only fitting because the Philippines is the largest market for the MX-5 in Asia outside of Japan. In fact, with more than 650 finding homes, the current generation “ND” has now managed to outsell the first- (NA), second- (NB), and third-generation (NC) models combined.

Regardless of the obvious language barrier, the meet, organized by the Roadster Club of Japan, embraced everyone as family due to one thing: their love for the MX-5.

The universality across four generations of the MX-5 is the reason why it’s so successful. Look at each and every MX-5, and it can trace its lineage directly to the first model that debuted in 1989. All of them were designed around the principle of being a lightweight, open-top sportscar. It was deemed “impossible to sell” then, but Mazda has proven otherwise producing more than one million examples since then, while its competitors have all come and gone.

Also, by sticking to its basic formula, there’s no contempt that a generation is “less” MX-5 than another. The changes are borne out of improvements—more power, more rigid platform—but the same ingredients remain: they’re all lightweight, open-top sportscars with rear wheel drive. By keeping it close to its founding ethos (even being produced at the same site in Hiroshima), there’s no debate if fancy electronics or a sub-contracted car justify the storied badge. This is the reason why owners, young or old, men or women, can sit down together.

And Mazda will not be messing with the formula any time soon. What can everyone expect with the fifth-generation roadster, the “NE”? Something that stays true to the formula according to Mazda Motor Corporation Vice President Kiyoshi Fujiwara. It’s something echoed by the MX-5 Chief Designer Masashi Nakayama who says it’ll be an evolution of the fourth-generation ND. With that, they introduced the fifth-generation MX-5’s Program Manager: Shigeki Saito. He has his work cut out for him, having to satisfy over 30 years of history. MX-5 fans around the world will surely like to see what he comes up with next, but for as long as he continues to celebrate driving, the roadster will be in very good hands.

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