When Mazda’s new MX-5, the fourth generation of a sports car that has become a true motoring icon since its original 1989 launch, goes on sale in August, it will be €5,000 less expensive than the outgoing model at €27,995.
Much of that price drop is due to an increase in efficiency. Instead of the old version 2.0-lite petrol engine, the new MX-5 comes with an equally new 1.5-litre SkyActiv-G petrol four-cylinder, developing 131bhp and emitting 139g/km. That means you’ll have to pay a mere €280 a year to tax it, as opposed to a somewhat more eye-watering €750 for the old one.
The new MX-5 is an attempt by Mazda to recapture some of the lightness and simplicity of the 1989 original. That car was heavily influenced by Colin Chapman's 1960s Lotus Elan; a car so light and delicate that you felt that you might break it merely by sitting in it. The Mk1 MX-5 was rather more robust, but echoed the Elan's low-weight, high-fun philosophy.
Successive generations of MX-5 have become a little heavier and more complicated, but Mazda claims that this new model is the lightest MX-5 since that first generation. Much of the weight reduction ha been achieved by using a new, specially-designed rear-drive platform that also has a lower centre of gravity than before.
Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, LED headlights, a leather steering wheel, plus a lightweight and sleek fabric hood. Step up to the €29,995 GT model and you’ll also get piano black wing mirrors and feature rain sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, smart keyless entry, Premium Bose-branded stereo and heated leather seats.
Managing director at Mazda Ireland, Tony Howarth said: "Mazda Ireland are launching 5 new cars in 2015 but MX-5 is probably the most exciting for us as it embodies everything that Mazda stands for - a true drivers car connecting the driver and car through the Jinba Ittai concept meaning 'oneness between horse and rider'. This fourth generation Mazda MX-5 returns to the roots of the original car launched in 1989 being smaller and lighter and importantly offering fun to drive for the masses."
Will Irish buyers be swayed by the reduced price and improved equipment? They will take some convincing - in 2007, the last full year before the financial crash, Mazda sold a mere 122 MX-5s. Last year, it sold three and so far this year it has sold none.
Of possibly rather greater interest to Irish buyers is the new CX-3 crossover, which we recently test drove. We knew that the basic model would cost from €20,695 but now Mazda Ireland has announced the rest of the price line up and specifications.
So, that €20,695 buys you a front-drive 2.0-litre petrol emitting 137g/km (so, again, €280 to tax for a year). Step up to a €21,895 Executive and you’ll get 16-inch alloy wheels, plus heated and power folding mirrors 7-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a multifunction steering wheel, while Executive SE models add rear privacy glass and front LED fog lights.
If you want a diesel, you’ll have to find €24,195 for a 1.5-litre SkyActiv-D model in Executive trim, with 105g/km Co2 emissions (that’s €190 motor tax). Top-spec GT models start from €27,695 and if you want four-wheel-drive (which precious few customers in this segment do) you’ll need to spend €30,195.
That, once again, puts Mazda at the somewhat expensive end of the spectrum - rivals such as the Fiat 500x and Renault Captur (currently the best-selling car in the compact crossover segment) both have base models starting at under €20,000 but Mazda hopes that the more competitive pricing for higher-spec models will keep the CX-3 towards the top of buyers’ shopping lists. The CX-3 arrives here properly in June but, as with the MX-5, you can order one now.