Image credits: © Mazda.

2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata


A new, more stylish Mazda MX-5 is now available in South Africa. The world's best-selling roadster now offers more Zoom-Zoom than ever before in the guise of some considerable cosmetic changes. According to Rob Crouse, Mazda South Africa's Marketing Manager, the heart of the MX- 5 – its magnificent drivetrain – has remained unchanged. 'When it comes to its engine and performance, the Mazda MX-5 already epitomises Mazda's product formula – craftsmanship and quality that customers expect, mixed wîth the dynamic drive that is elemental to Zoom-Zoom and Mazda's heritage at the forefront of sports car design. The MX-5 remains a silky / smooth, expeditious machine that keeps the senses alive and raring to go. However, wîth the new cosmetic improvements, the MX-5 is further enhanced and continues to set new benchmarks within the ,' he notes. While the Mazda MX-5 has always turned heads, the latest model is even more visually appealing. The latest generation MX-5 is characterised by new fog lamps and alloy wheels. The sexy MX-5 has been designed for looks and comfort and its outer appeal of a 'shark-nose' bumper and integrated driving lights create a rapacious visage. There is a choice of six vibrant colours to add to the roadster's style and a sleek removable hard top that contributes to the stiffness of the chassis and increases its rigidity. Also up for grabs is a manual soft-top cover, wîth a glass tempered rear window wîth integrated demister, to protect the driver and passenger from the outside elements. With the new Mazda MX-5, the scuff plate, centre panel, gear lever base panel, audio panel, meter ring, door inner handle, parking brake release button and side louvre bezel are now all decorated in a striking shade of silver. Considerable design enhancements have been made to the leather §teering wheel, leather shift knob and leather parking brake lever while the leather seats have received the addition of piping.

New Mazda MX-5

The aero board on the MX-5 – which has made its way into the Guinness World Book of Records for being the biggest-selling roadster – is now equipped wîth two speakers. These comfort features are designed to make the trip as relaxing and luxurious as possible, whilst the Mazda's engine does all the hard work. Heated sculpted bucket seats hold the driver in place when turning sharp corners, fully employing the MX-5's power suspension. A look of sporty elegance is evident throughout the interior, in the guise of features such as the chrome-plated rims for the speedometer and tachometer and white dials wîth red illumination for night-time vision. Standard features include power §teering, air-conditioning, automatic power windows and mirrors, central locking, two-speaker twotweeter radio/CD sound system, central locking, power door locks wîth keyless entry and remote releases for the fuel and boot lid allowing the car to be opened from a distance without the hassle of keys. Although the Mazda is a luxurious vehicle, it didn't win its top-selling status based purely on its comfort levels. The heart of the roadster is a MX-5 1.8-litre DOHC, 4-cylinder, 16- valve engine. With a six-speed manual gearbox, the feisty MX-5 produces 107 kW at 7000 r/min and 168 Nm of torque at 5000 r/min. The engine's mid-range torque is especially impressive, thanks to the exhaust manifold port being longer than customary. Furthermore, the resonance chamber is tuned, which gives the MX-5 even more powerful performance.

The engine – which boasts a racy bracing engine sound imperative for a sports cars – is equipped wîth Sequential Valve Timing (S-VT) wîth a continuous phase variable timing mechanism that monitors the timing of the air intake valve throughout the rev range. The mechanism is equipped wîth an oil control valve that manages hydraulic pressure. A pentype actuator constantly changes the phase of the air intake valve timing. This is where the S-VT comes into play, inhibiting air intake countercurrents when dealing wîth a highload, low engine speed. It closes the air intake valve early in order to achieve this and, as a result, increases charging efficiency and improves low-speed torque. During high-load, high engine speeds, the air intake valve is closed slowly by the S-VT, thereby enhancing engine output by taking maximum benefit of the inertia of the air intake.

New Mazda MX-5

While in mid-load conditions the S-VT opens the air intake valve early to expand valve overlap, which increases exhaust gas diffusion and reduces pumping loss. The performance of the roadster is just as impressive as the engine. The fine-tuned suspension includes modifying shock dampening force and high pressure gas filed dampers, which ensures that the Mazda MX-5 cuts through corners and handles speed wîth control that takes hold of the road. The MX-5 has near perfect 50:50 weight distribution that advances adrenaline-pumping speeds and is the ideal front/rear distribution for complete control of the sports car. To accomplish this balance, the engine has been mounted behind the front axle for a mid ship layout, the bonnet created wîth aluminium wîth the fuel tank located in front of the rear axle, and the battery placed in the boot. The weight now rests between the axles, resulting in outstanding cornering. Another performance perk of the Mazda is the four-wheel double wishbone suspension. This keeps the wheels perpendicular to the road throughout the length of suspension travel. The MX-5 includes optimal front roll centre height, and front strut tow bar and highly rigid rubber shock absorber mounts that allow you to push the performance to the edge. Body rigidity is important, for without it the body twists and flexes resulting in the suspension and §teering being adversely affected. To make sure this doesn't occur, the aluminium power plant frame locks the entire power train into a single unit and, combined wîth the extensive reinforcement of the body panels and under floor frames, the roadster is a power performer. The MX-5 is equipped wîth a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) wîth ensures that maximum power to the right and left wheels is supplied independently to reduce the wheel spin, and allow the car to continue driving. The six-speed gearbox, wîth its typically sporty 'short throw', is designed to keep the engine within its optimal torque range. Its responsive and powerful acceleration has a cross ratio between the second and fourth gears, of the gearbox, to allow for flick of the wrist gear changes.

New Mazda MX-5

While styling, comfort, power and performance are tops in this car, so is the safety. An ultra-stiff chassis and Mazda's Advanced Impact Distribution System ensure safety of the vehicle.

The system has a crushable front zone that resists impact forces of a certain level, and then crumples to absorb energy from the crash, thus avoiding intrusion into the cabin. The rear-collisions are countered by the boot, which is designed to absorb shock wîth the additional protection of the strengthened side rear frames. The MX-5's restyled wheels and 205/45R16 high performance tyres grip the road better wîth improved traction. In keeping wîth the immense power, the braking system is remarkable and includes 270mm ventilated discs in the front and 276mm solid disc brakes at the rear. Fade-free stopping power is boosted by powerful vacuum servos, and a fourwheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is standard for more controllable stopping power. Combined wîth the ABS is the Electronically Controlled Brakeforce Distribution System (commonly known as EBD). This system automatically adjusts the braking force in relation to the load carried by the wheel, and as a result enables firm pressure to apply to the brake pedal. This helps to maintain a more stable posture, and enhance the roadster's emergency avoidance capabilities.

Other safety features inside the vehicle are full size Supplement Restraint System (SRS) airbag for both the driver and passenger, wîth a side cut-off system for the passenger. Three point seat belts wîth pre-tensioners and load limiting mechanisms hold the occupants in place while the airbag deploys and the load limiter helps to avoid chest injuries. Child seats are fitted to the passenger seat by using international standard ISOFIX bars and tether anchorage for the safety of infants travelling in the car. The headlamps offer 50m of extended illumination and side lamps are also fitted to the car (giving increased visibility of 3m to either side of the car), making night-time driving as safe as possible. The MX-5 also has a number of impressive security features to ensure that it remains in its rightful hands. Features include an ID transponder that is built into the ignition key.

New Mazda MX-5

This has a unique vehicle identification code that is sent to the immobiliser computer when the key is in the ignition. If the ID signal is not the same as the computer immobilser's, then engine components such as ignition, fuel and starter relay are deactivated. According to Crouse, the new Mazda MX-5 is a fast machine offering superb styling inside and out, powerful performance and the ultimate in handling and control. 'It is comfortable, but luxurious, safe and secure. It's already the world's most popular roadster and, given its latest enhancements, this is sure to be a position it continues to enjoy in years to come,' he concludes.

Source - Ford Motor Company
Mazda Motor Corporation revealed the all-new MX-5 to the world at a press conference held today at the 75th Geneva International Motor Show (Salon International de l'Auto in Geneva). Úpdated, improved, and at long last unleashed, the all-new, third-generation Mazda MX-5 is the latest and most-advanced evolution of the world's best-selling lightweight sports car. Takao Kijima, program manager for the new vehicle, said, 'Our effort wîth the all-new MX-5 was to retain the key roadster attributes that made this car famous--the lightweight feeling, the balanced handling, the overall nimbleness of the product--but make the vehicle more useful for a wider range of customers, offering better value, more comfort, and overall higher levels of interior quality.'

The MX-5 (known as the Roadster in Japan) debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and since then Mazda has relentlessly pursued the fun found in a lightweight, open sports car. The Japanese expression jinba ittai (meaning the oneness of motion, 'rider and horse as one') best describes this evolved MX-5's 'fun-to-drive' character. Development focused on creating a car that would be enjoyable in any driving situation--whether it is sports driving or just daily use. It was designed and engineered to achieve a dynamic balance between a powerful engine and a more lightweight, compact body.

Evolution of 'Jinba Ittai'- lighter, stiffer body

For improved performance, safety, comfort and also to be more useful, Mazda employed a variety of new equipment and technologies to find any possible way to minimize weight and achieve a lighter model. The result: a total increase for the entire vehicle weight of only about 10 kg compared to the previous generation MX-5.

Útilizing advanced materials such as ultra-high-tension steel, the new MX-5's unibody delivers an increase of 22 percent for flexural stiffness and 47 percent for torsional rigidity compared to its predecessor. Moving the engine rearward by 135 mm (5.3 inches) was a major step toward balancing front-to-rear weight distribution and reducing the yaw moment of inertia.

Delightful Design - Fun and Modern Styling

The low, flowing shoulder lines established in the original roadster are still there. Long associated wîth being approachable and fun, the new version was further transformed into a lightweight sports car of simple functionality and athletic solidity, both of which remain obvious design DNA attributes. The fender arches are more pronounced for wider wheeltrack dimensions, providing a more athletic stance.

The interior design themes of the new Mazda MX-5 are simple functionality and comfortable openness wîth high-quality craftsmanship. Four round heating and cooling vents help establish a straight reference line across the front of the cockpit. Several areas of the interior consist of a Piano-black finish that render a modern, high-quality surface. Five round gauges wîth metal-look trim have glass covers wîth a coating to reduce reflections and maintain legibility even in direct sunlight.

Eight exterior colors are available. With base models, tasteful black upholstery and a matte-silver metallic finish can be selected. High-grade models offer two choices: a combination of saddle-tan and black leather or black leather in a monotone treatment.

Improved safety and comfort

Although the new MX-5 is an open car boasting the Mazda Advanced Impact-energy Distribution and Absorption System, Mazda sought--and achieved--higher collision safety performance. Newly developed side airbags protect the torso, and it is also equipped wîth a larger-volume head protection airbag.

Various types of body statures can comfortably fit in the cockpit driver's seat. New waist-level vents and a mesh-type air deflector mounted behind the seats improve ventilation inside the cabin for an improved sense of open-air motoring.

Perfected Powertrain

Equipped wîth a newly developed 2.0-liter MZR engine in all markets, models wîth a 1.8-liter engine are available for the European market.

Throughout the engine development, work focused on what engineer's call 'response', 'expansion feel' and 'pleasant engine sound.' A lighter flywheel and a stiffer drive shaft contributed to realizing the responsive, direct feel of the new MX-5. Also, a 57 percent reduction in intake restriction was achieved. Pressure loss in the exhaust system was reduced 40 percent to keep the engine torque curve nearly level at high rpm. Furthermore, the intake manifold and the intake and exhaust system were tuned, and the engine sound that resulted is one of the pleasant appeals of the new MX-5.

The newly developed 6-speed manual transmission is available in all markets. Shifting gears is a breeze--seems like just a flick of the wrist--when using the triple-cone synchronizers for the first four gears. The gearshift lever can also manually control five-speed manual and advanced six-speed automatic transmissions.

Predictable, lively handling

Realizing a light-but-stiff unibody that serves as the chassis foundation, a double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension system wîth optimized geometry help extract the best that 205/45WR-17 radial tires have to offer. Aluminum was used for some chassis parts to minimize unsprung weight, and attaching the rear cross member directly to the unibody wîth no rubber isolation enhances chassis rigidity while reinforcing the driver's feeling of oneness wîth the car.

Únwanted §teering and pitch motion of the body during acceleration and braking are tightly controlled by anti-drive, anti-squat geometry. Also, a 65 mm (2.56 inches) increase in the wheelbase helps balance the stable driving.

The rack-and-pinion power §teering gears yields low friction, high linearity, and delightfully smooth §teering responses. Another significant change that induces improved handling is a 75 mm (3.0 inches) increase in the front track and a 55 mm (2.1 inches) increase in the rear track.

Class-leading level stopping distances are achieved in the new MX-5 because front and rear rotors are increased in diameter and calipers are increased in its stiffness to engineer a precise brake pedal response wîth a high degree of linearity.

Source - Mazda Motor Corp.
Rumor to be designed after the Lotus Elan, the Mazda Miata is the world's best selling sports car. With over 720,000 produced between 1989 and 2005, production proves Mazda held its title consistently.

The history of the Miata is one of interest and success. Unveiled in 1989 as the 'Eunos Roadser', prior to the name change to the Miata, it was a designed collaboration between the USA and England. Created to be a basic roadster without unnecessary weight, it was an instant success with over 23,000 sold by the end of its first year. With a starting price of $13,800, the Miata, despite its small design, made a sizeable impact in the success of Mazda's future.

The shell of the Miata is all steel with an aluminum bonnet. Weighing in at over 2,380 pounds, the Miata confirmed its small roadster appeal. The trusswork is uniquely called the 'Powerplant Frame', which connects the engine to the differential, creating a more firm and responsive feel. It's quick and responsive handling is helped due to independent double wishbone suspension on all four wheels with an anti-roll bar at the front. Optional paddle shifting was available with the six speed automatic versions of the Touring, Sport, and Grand Touring models. With power to the rear wheels, drivers thirst for corners even if they're beginners.

The Miata's appearance ranks among attractive qualities. Its cozy, subtle, curved design helped to propel sales to customers of all ages to a higher level. The bright color palette offered during production accented the appearance and still turns heads today, making onlookers yearn to get behind the wheel of this convertible on owners pine for the summer months.

A 'Special Touring Option Edition' was also offered, which included stainless steel scuff plates, Twilight Blue paint, and 15 inch Enkei wheels. The 'Club Spec' version was available with 16 inch alloy wheels and four wheel disc brakes with ABS, but also offered a limited amount of color options: Winning Blue Metallic, Marble White, and True Red.

The interior, though tight, beckoned stereo enthusiasts and those who revel in the appeal and stigma of leather. Optional passenger-side airbags and standard drivers–side airbags provided safety without drastically impacting the beauty of the interior.

With the introduction of the 'M Edition' came a wood shift knob and chrome wheels with Montego Blue paint. The option of a wooden parking brake handle was available on this edition for complete look. Other editions such as the 'Touring Package' included power steering, a leather wrapped steering wheel, power mirrors, aluminum alloy wheels, and power windows. Also, the available 'Club Spec' model included CD player with speed sensitive sound, four speakers, black cloth trimmed upholstery, power windows, locks, and mirrors and black vinyl top.

Engines for the Miata were available with a 1.6L, 1.8L or 2.0L. The 1.6 L dual overhead cam inline four-cylinder engine produced 120 horsepower with 0-60 times consisting of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 119 miles per hour.

The 1.8L produced 140 horsepower with help of the raised engine compression ratio and the additions of domed pistons. The additions also helped the 0-60 time, which was marked at 7.9 seconds with a top speed of 123 miles per hour. In 2005, the 2.0L was the latest engine thrusting the Miata. The 16 valve engine produced 170 horsepower with a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds, bringing the Miata to a fast finish when production ceased in the same year.

Even though all 3rd generation 2006 models all over the world now go with the name 'MX-5', the Miata will always be the true coupe that helped to accelerate the sports car appeal with today's roadsters.

Kyle McMullen
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