Revealed at the 1997 Tokyo motor show, the second-generation Mazda MX-5 was handed a more modern body and gone were the pop-up headlamps which were now deemed unsafe. The 1.6 and 1.8-litre options remained, but power output was upped to 140bhp for the most potent version and anti-lock brakes were now offered. Meanwhile, the car gained a bit of weight, too, tipping the scales at 1000kg.
A 10th Anniversary model followed in 1999 which bolstered the standard MX-5 with features such as a six-speed manual gearbox and Blistein shock absorbers, along with two-toned black leather and blue alcantara seats. A facelift two years later saw the MX-5 take on a slightly more aggressive look and acquired a limited slip differential among other additions.
Time for an overhaul
The second-generation Mazda MX-5 had not fared as well as its predecessor in terms of sales and something had to be done to rectify this. As a result, the Mk3 was a revolution for the MX-5 on all accounts.
Besides side-panel turning lights, not a single component was brought over from the previous model, and underneath, the MX-5 had changed drastically. A modern suspension set-up was introduced, while technology such as traction control and stability control were also brought in to make the car more driveable for all motorists.
Another massive step was the removal of the 1.6 as an engine option, with the 1.8 becoming the car’s smallest displacement. A new 2.0-litre powertrain entered the frame with an output of 158bhp, the 1.8 now producing 126bhp.
In 2006, the convertible fabric roof was joined by a second option in the form of a very clever metal folding hard-top. The UK lapped up the chance to buy a car with sleek coupe looks that also allowed for the open-top experience and healthy sales in Britain are the reason we will be getting a hard-top option with next year’s fourth generation MX-5.
A further facelift in 2008 is the version of the MX-5 we know today and is a car that now offers 167bhp from its 2.0-litre engine; the 1.8 remains at 126bhp.
Looking to the future
Sales for the Mazda MX-5 broke the world record for the best-selling two-seater sports car back in 2000 with 531,890 having left the factory and figures to date have so far surpassed 900,000 units sold.
The next MX-5 is being developed in tandem with Alfa Romeo, but not much has been revealed from a technical standpoint, most of the talk has been surrounding the car’s exterior design, although Mazda’s new SkyActiv technology will no doubt enter the fray.
We will all expect the next MX-5 to carry the torch of being the UK’s favourite two-seater into its fourth generation. There’s little worry of it failing to do so, with the company enjoying renewed momentum thanks to the new Mazda6 and Mazda3 models showing us that the manufacturer is very much on form in this current day.
So, here’s to another 25 years!