Beginning this September, Mazda's new third-generation MX-5 soft top roadster will be joined by a second model with a power retractable hard top. The three-panel hard top of the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe is very lightweight and made of high quality plastic composite material. It folds back into such a compact space behind the seats that the 150 litres of boot space remains untouched. Changing from compact coupe to racy open-top roadster, or from roadster to coupe, takes only 12 seconds (the quickest on the market today). By following a strict strategy to avoid extra pounds during development, the first Mazda MX-5 without a soft top is only 37 kg heavier than its sister model, despite having a hard top and body shell reinforcements. The new car's design is pure MX-5, while slight changes to the rear deck area lend it an exciting new character all its own.
The Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe is based on the soft top MX-5, which has developed into a true classic roadster during the last 17 years. At the Geneva Motor Show last year, Mazda introduced the third-generation of the Mazda MX-5, which was first entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful open-top, two-seater vehicle in history in 2000. At the end of June 2006, a total of 774,372 MX-5s have been produced.
In Geneva 2005, it was clear that Mazda's third-generation roadster - which continues the Mazda roadster concept of a front, midship engine placement and rear-wheel drive, ideal 50:50 weight distribution, classic two-seater design with a long bonnet and short rear end, along with a manual soft top - had lost none of its allure even 17 years after the first MX-5 rolled off the line in Hiroshima.
The Electric-Roof Coupe Trend has not Escaped Notice at Mazda
During the last few years in Europe, several coupe models with electric retractable roofs have hit the market, which has increased demand for open-top driving with hard top practicality. Calls for an MX-5 model with a hard top, in addition to the soft top version, have got loud at Mazda as well. As Mazda MX-5 Programme Manager, Takao Kijima, puts it "We know of many customers who are considering buying an MX-5, but have hesitated because of concern about security and comfort." With an easy to use power retractable hard top, an individualistic design and the same agile chassis, Mazda is now positioned to bring these kinds of customers into the MX-5 circle of fans.
Main Goal - to Avoid Extra Weight Wherever Possible
One of the main development goals for the new Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe was to retain the aura of the lightweight sports car. As a consequence, engineers were able to keep the additional weight of the new Roadster Coupe down to only 37 kg. The power retractable hard top, for instance, is only 18 kg heavier than the soft top of the MX-5, thanks to an innovative use of glass fibre / plastic composite materials.
Another main development target was to keep the design of the Roadster Coupe as close as possible to that of the soft top model. Its low, flowing shoulder line and its short - compared to almost all other coupes with retractable hard top - rear overhang remain untouched for an athletic road presence. In fact, the exterior dimensions of the MX-5 Roadster Coupe are identical to the soft top, with the exception of 10 mm more height. "And the nice thing is," added Kijima, "the car looks great with the top up."
Rear End Design Gives the Roadster Coupe its own Unique Personality From the front bumper to the back edge of the doors, both MX-5 soft top and the new Roadster Coupe are identical. To provide stowage space for the power retractable hard top, subtle changes had to be made to the rear fenders and the boot area. The front edge of the Roadster Coupe's rear deck lid is placed 40 mm higher than the soft top. To ensure that the MX-5 Roadster Coupe not sacrifice any of its low sports car crouch, designers raised the boot lid 20 mm, which allows the roof line to fall softly into the back of the car. Added to this are more prominently formed rear wheel arches that help the Coupe stay low to the ground, just like the soft top model.
The European version of the all new MX-5 Roadster Coupe is available with the same lively, four-cylinder petrol engines as the soft top (depending on market). The MZR 1.8-litre base engine produces 93 kW/126 PS and the 2.0-litre petrol produces 118 kW/160 PS. Both engines are lightweight, installed north-south and drive the rear wheels. The standard transmission is the same five-speed manual (5MT) that has made the soft top so famously fun to drive, while the 2.0-litre engine can be ordered with a 6-speed manual (6MT) transmission as well.
Power Retractable Hard Top with Manual Centre Lock
On the inside, MX-5 Roadster Coupe has the same cockpit as the soft top, except for buttons to open and close the roof and a couple fewer stowage compartments behind the seats. The power retractable hard top is just as uncomplicated to use as the original model's soft top. First the driver manually opens the centre locking mechanism in the middle of the upper windshield frame, then holds down the "open" button located in the centre stack while the hard top is automatically stowed behind the seats. To close the hard top, the driver holds down the "close" button, then locks the roof in place using the centre lock overhead.
MX-5 Roadster Coupe Customers to Benefit from Added Comfort
The suspension of the new Roadster Coupe is slightly retuned - with larger diameter front stabilizers and newly tuned spring and damper units - to compensate for a minimal change in weight. While retaining the same handling attributes that have made the Mazda MX-5 model so popular, the Roadster Coupe delivers slightly more drive comfort than the especially nimble soft top version. Added to this are lower interior noise levels at higher speeds on the motorway and less wind turbulence due to a new aero board design. According to Programme Manager Kijima, these features are ideally suited for the new model's target customer, who is looking for premium quality.
Premium Technology - iPod®-Compatible Audio System
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe also sees, for the first time in a Mazda in Europe, the introduction of an iPod-adaptor for the audio system. iPod functionality - like listening to MP3 music files - operates through using the audio controls of the car and the steering wheel (latter, depending on market) and the iPod can be installed and charged easily with a special jack in the glove compartment.