The world’s biggest selling roadster, the Mazda MX-5, has always been about weight. Or perhaps I should say keeping the weight down. Now, in Japan, the Hiroshima-based company has re-focused the spotlight back onto its popular two-door by coming out with lightest ever ND-generation MX-5.
At a special MX-5 owners meeting in the Karuizawa holiday area 100 miles north of Tokyo last week, Mazda took its MX-5 back to its roots and unveiled a surprise addition to the MX-5 family, the ‘MX-5 990S.’
So what’s this car all about? Firstly the name comes from the coupe being based on the S grade of MX-5 and tipping the scales at 990 kg (2,182 lbs). That makes this ND special edition only 30 kg (66 lbs) heavier than the original NA generation of 1989.
To get the weight down, Mazda used every option at their disposal. That included switching the wheels from the stock rims to Rays alloys saving a total of 3.2 kg. And by changing to Brembo calipers and rotors, designers were able to save another 700 grams. The calipers are painted black with blue lettering to match the color scheme. They also saved weight by making the cabin more spartan and using lighter materials.
However, unlike the US-spec car, that boasts a 181hp 2.0-liter engine, the 990S if powered by a more modest and frugal 1.5-liter generating 130hp. On the handling side, the dampers and Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) were specially tuned to enhance the car’s cornering ability and an open differential was fitted.
“We wanted to make the lightest and most fun-to-drive ND-model MX-5 possible,” says chief engineer Shigeki Saito. “Horsepower and fun are not proportional. But lightweight sports and fun are. The lighter the car the more fun it is.” Choice words from a development chief who entered Mazda in the same year as the first NA-generation MX-5 was born some 32 years ago.
“To accurately express our lightweight is fun goal, we believed that the color combination was important, so we gave the coupe a navy blue soft-top and white body paint,” said Saito. To co-ordinate with the exterior color scheme, designers have also finished the air-conditioner louvres and floor mat ‘Roadster’ logos in blue as well. In Japan, the MX-5 is called Roadster.
Although it’s called a special edition, the 990S will not be a limited edition model as the firm wants it to be driven and enjoyed by “as many fans as possible.” This Japan-only model is scheduled to go on sale by year’s end, with pricing details to be disclosed at launch time. Yet another special model that we’ll miss out on.