What Mazda has called a "refresh" is actually a seriously thorough tweaking of the MX-5's mechanics and aesthetics. Outside the rag top, known as the Roadster in Japan where it's just gone on sale, gets a smaller version of the smile we've seen on the Mazda3, new alloy wheels, a stronger character line and three new colors. Inside it gets new gauges, more supportive seats and a new MX-5-specific BOSE system. And underneath the hood, the engine gets a higher redline, the automatic transmission gets a couple of new modes, and manual gearbox just gets more refined and the front end has been lowered. And those changes represent just the tips of many icebergs. One thing we can all be thankful Mazda hasn't changed about the MX-5 is its Jinba Ittai. That's Japanese for "rider and horse as one." Who knew? Follow the jump for the exhaustive press release and check out the high-res gallery of Mazda's new Roadster below.
Mazda Launches Freshened Roadster in Japan
Revamped Roadster inherits and evolves the original model's "Jinba Ittai" fun-to-drive qualities -
HIROSHIMA, Japan (12-9-08)-Mazda Motor Corporation today announced the launch of the freshened Mazda Roadster (known as the MX-5 overseas) into the Japanese market. Mazda's updated iconic lightweight, open-top sports car goes on sale today (December 9, 2008) at all Mazda and Mazda Anfini dealers throughout Japan. Manufacturer's suggested retail prices (including consumption tax) range from 2,330,000 to 2,600,000 yen for the soft top models, and from 2,680,000 to 2,950,000 yen for the Power Retractable Hard Top (RHT) models that feature Mazda's groundbreaking electric roof system.
The latest version of Mazda's two-seat sports car carries forward the Roadster's traditional "Jinba Ittai" ("rider and horse as one") concept, and features detailed improvements in the exterior and interior design, quality, functionality and dynamic performance. As a result, the Roadster is now more fun-to-drive and more desirable than ever. The RHT models, which provide both the enjoyment of open-top driving and the comfort of a coupe, are now even quieter and feature new, exclusive exterior parts, offering customers even higher levels of comfort and quality.
The design of the front fascia has been updated with Mazda's hallmark five-point grille. A stronger character line that stretches along the lower edge of the vehicle's sides has been visually extended to the rear bumper, further enhancing the Roadster's sporty dynamism. Newly designed alloy wheels (two sizes) now come as standard on all model grades. Three new exterior body colors have been added, including the high quality Aluminum Metallic and vivid Sunflower Yellow.
On the inside, the five gauges on the instrument panel have been newly designed and are highlighted by a dark silver decorative panel. The interior quality is enhanced by a choice of tactile brown leather seats or Recaro bucket seats upholstered in a combination of leather and Alcantara®*1. Comfort levels are also improved through the addition of heated seats with a temperature control with five temperature settings (for grades with leather seats only).
The rev limit on grades with a manual transmission has been increased to 7,500 rpm for improved driving performance. The height of the front roll center has been optimized, and the retuned suspension makes the vehicle's handling even more natural. Additionally, automatic grades now offer Direct Mode*2 and Active Adaptive Shift (AAS)*3 functions for an even sportier ride. Improvements have also been made to the engine and body to enhance noise reduction levels and provide a more satisfying engine sound.
The Mazda Roadster was certified by Guinness World Records as the world's highest production two-seat open-top sports car when production passed 500,000 units in 2000. Guinness has updated the Roadster's record since then, which now stands at over 800,000 units built.
*1 ALCANTARA® is a registered trademark of Alcantara S.p.A.
*2 Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters can be used to change gear even when the gear shift is in the Drive position.
*3 AAS automatically selects the optimal gear depending on driving style and road surface conditions.
Main features of the refreshed Mazda Roadster
The freshened Roadster carries forward the simple elegance and familiar styling of previous Roadsters, yet incorporates Mazda's latest design motifs.
- The front fascia now features Mazda's hallmark five-pointed grille. Sharper headlights and bold fog light bezels enhance the lively and refined styling. This further emphasizes the curved corners of the front bumper, which also improves the vehicle aerodynamics.
- More prominent character lines running along the bottom of the vehicle sides strengthen the appearance of the side sill garnish. The character lines have been visually extended to the rear bumper to better express speed and stability.
- The rear end has been updated with new rear combination lights that flow smoothly into the bumper. A larger black rear diffuser further emphasizes the Roadster's sporty appearance.
- RHT models feature an exclusive mesh grille with a chrome border, chrome headlight inner bezels, silver fog light inner bezels and chrome outer door handles. A high-mounted clear brake light completes the RHT's distinctive and high quality look.
- All models come with newly designed alloy wheels as standard equipment. The five-spoke 16-inch wheels complement the Roadster's lightweight image (on the S, NR-A, S RHT and VS RHT model grades). The 17-inch wheels feature 10 rounded spokes for a more dynamic appearance (on the RS and RS RHT model grades). Additionally, forged 17-inch alloy wheels, customized by BBS, are available as a factory-installed option (on the RS, RS RHT and VS RHT grades).
- Eight exterior body colors are available, including three new options: deep Metropolitan Gray Mica, high quality Aluminum Metallic, and Sunflower Yellow, which expresses the Roadster's Zoom-Zoom spirit.
The interior design of the freshened Mazda Roadster offers improved quality and functionality in every detail, while the snug cabin conveys a sense of openness.
- A sporty, dark silver decorative panel runs across the center of the dashboard. Silver rings have been added to the air conditioner dials on the center panel to raise the interior quality feel.
- The five gauges on the instrument cluster have been newly designed to make them easier to read. A red LCD screen is located in the center of the meter console. It displays data from the odometer/trip meter, as well as the average fuel consumption and ambient air temperature.
- The design of the inner door pocket has been flattened to increase space in the foot well. Soft padding has been added to the lid on the center console storage box and the door armrests to increase comfort levels.
- The newly designed seats come in four grades. Sporty black fabric seats are available for all grades except the VS RHT. The VS RHT features tactile, Havana Brown leather upholstery as standard equipment. Black leather seat covers (for the RS and the RS RHT grades) and RECARO bucket seats upholstered in a combination of black leather and Alcantara® (for the RS, RS RHT and VS RHT grades) are available as factory-installed options.
- The seats have larger side bolsters for greater support. For added comfort, heated seats with a five-setting temperature control are standard for the VS RHT and available for the RS and RS RHT grades as a factory-installed option.
- A BOSE® sound system, developed exclusively for the Roadster, features a six-channel digital amplifier and seven speakers with independent playback. The system also features AUDIOPILOTTM 2, a BOSE® noise compensation system (available as a factory-installed option on all grades except NR-A).
- An auxiliary jack that is located at the base of the center stack provides connectivity for portable audio devices (standard on the VS RHT and available as a factory-installed option on all other grades except the NR-A).
By reviewing and evolving the basic aspects of the vehicle's dynamics, such as acceleration, cornering, and braking, Mazda further enhanced the "Jinba Ittai" ("rider and horse as one") feel that the Roadster has become famous for since the original version was introduced.
- The 2.0-liter double overhead cam (DOHC) engine features a newly forged crankshaft for extra strength. Additionally, new full floating piston pins and revised valve springs raise the engine's overall operational precision. Maximum output is now generated at 7,000 rpm, up from 6,700 rpm, and the rev limit has been increased from 7,000 to 7,500 rpm. These changes result in a stretched power band at higher engine speeds (for manual transmission models).
- The highly rigid forged crankshaft, together with a stiffer plastic surge tank, contributes to improved quietness when cruising. At the same time, these changes bring out a clearer sound when driving at medium to high speeds. Six-speed manual transmission models also feature a newly developed Induction Sound Enhancer. This amplifies the throbbing noise generated as air is sucked into the engine and reverberates it around the cabin for an even better driving experience.
- The updated six-speed manual transmission provides an even smoother shift feel thanks to the carbon-coated meshing surfaces on the first to fourth triple-cone synchronizers and a larger diameter third to fourth synchronizer.
- The electrically-controlled six-speed automatic (Activematic) transmission now has a "Direct mode" and Active Adoptive Shift (AAS) which enhance the sporty driving experience and provide better response to driver inputs.
Body and chassis
- By lowering the front roll center height by 26 mm, the added vertical load on the outer wheels when cornering is minimized. This results in a more natural amount of body roll when cornering and more linear response to steering inputs. With added improvements to the suspension, the updated Roadster offers improved "Jinba Ittai" handling balanced with a higher quality ride.
- The protruding design of the front bumper corners and the rear combination lights, together with wider front under-floor tire deflectors, contribute to improved aerodynamics.
The door modules are made from a stiffer new material and feature a reinforcement rib for extra rigidity. Together with a stronger number two crossmember, these changes make sound insulation better than ever. For RHT models, road noise is further reduced due to the addition of urethane foam filling in the front suspension crossmember and extra sound insulation in the roof.
Environmental and safety features
Mazda evolved the eco-friendly and safety features of the Mazda Roadster to increase its fun-to-drive qualities.
- All models qualify as Super-Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (SU-LEV) by achieving exhaust emissions that are at least 75% lower than the levels required by the Japanese government's 2005 exhaust emissions standard.
- A display on the instrument panel shows the average fuel consumption and ambient temperature.
- The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system supports linear and confident driving by helping to prevent loss of control when cornering (standard equipment on the RS, RS RHT, and VS RHT grades).
- The Roadster offers excellent collision safety performance thanks to a version of Mazda's highly rigid Advanced Impact-energy Distribution and Absorption System that has been specially adapted for an open-top car. Other safety equipment to mitigate potential injuries to occupants and pedestrians includes an airbag system and a bonnet with Mazda's shock cone structure.