Mazda’s all-new MX-5 roadster is now just days away from its global debut, with months of reports and rumours soon to be realised or debunked.
Simultaneous unveilings are planned for Japan, Spain and the US. Pesky time zones notwithstanding, September 4 is the date we Aussies can etch into the kitchen calendar.
What can we expect? Well, for the event, we'll get pop group Duran Duran - another icon of the 80s - providing the soundtrack.
As for the car itself, nobody knows for sure, with Mazda so far handling one of the most masterfully secure model launches in motoring history.
Still, no shortage of reports and rumours have surfaced over the past year. For a preview of what we might see this week, here’s a round-up of the best.
Above rendering by Milos Dvorak.
Unofficial speculative renderings of the new ‘ND’ MX-5 have been flying thick and fast for almost as long as the current ‘NC’ generation has been on the market.
Others have pointed to a return to the MX-5’s design roots, embracing and evolving the little roadster’s classic ‘soapbar’ looks.
They may all be wrong. Speaking with TMR in August, Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders confirmed the new MX-5 will look “nothing like” the outgoing NC.
Will it then take its cues from Mazda’s newest models, after all? Is there a Kodo-styled MX-5 around the corner?
“I would say it’s more of an evolved version of that,” Mr Benders said.
A revealing spy video captured by an eagle-eyed fan in Japan last month also looks to have recorded the most revealing look yet at the new MX-5.
The footage appears to echo Benders’ comments, hinting at a new shape with a taller rear deck, shortened overhangs and muscular guards.
Here is where Mazda has been the least secretive, revealing the new MX-5’s bones back in April.
With that ‘unveiling’ came confirmation that the new MX-5 will boast super short overhangs, 50:50 weight distribution and the return of the MX-5’s ‘power plant frame’.
The carmaker also confirmed a roughly 100kg weight loss, which will bring the new model incredibly close to 1000kg.
After styling, the MX-5’s powertrain has been one of the key points of debate for fans and armchair experts alike.
Like Mazda’s wider passenger range, the new MX-5 will use small efficient SkyActiv petrol engines.
Popular opinion points to a pair of side-by-side options, one a smaller entry 1.5 litre unit and the other a more powerful 2.0 litre mill.
Both are expected to be naturally-aspirated, reportedly producing around 96kW in 1.5 form and between 125-135kW for the larger unit.
That will make the 1.5 engine more of a style-focused price leader, while the more powerful 2.0 litre unit should make for a worthy successor to the NC’s 118kW mill - particularly with the new MX-5’s lighter kerb weight.
Other reports point to plans for a diesel model - but nothing as compelling as the company’s 129kW/420Nm 2.2 litre unit.
Rumours suggest instead that a smaller unit will feature, possibly the 1.5 diesel that offers 77kW and 250Nm. Useable numbers, if not exciting.
And, depending on who you ask, we could see a turbocharged MX-5, with Britain’s What Car reporting back in 2012 that a 150kW 1.3 litre turbo would star.
The smart money however is on those 1.5 and 2.0 litre petrol units.
Ah yes, price. The current NC MX-5’s $47,280 starting price has long been a point of contention among enthusiasts.
Of course, for a long time, it was the only rear-wheel-drive two-door available in Australia for under $50,000.
And, as a convertible, it remains the only rear-wheel-drive droptop you can get in that price range, with Nissan’s $65,930 370Z Roadster the other key choice.
But the arrival of Toyota’s 86 and its Subaru BRZ sibling, available now from $29,990 and $37,150 respectively, could move Mazda to ‘reboot’ its approach to the MX-5’s pricing.
Mazda says it’s not influenced by either of those top-selling coupes, but it has conceded that a price-leading base model could be on the cards.
Nothing has been confirmed, but reports suggest the new roadster could debut at a point below $40,000 - potentially with that entry-level 1.5 litre engine - to attract those buyers interested more in style than outright power.
And what’s this about a coupe?
Perhaps the least likely of the myriad MX-5 rumours is the talk of a proper coupe companion.
Unlike the NC’s variant model and its folding hard-top roof, this new version would be a proper fastback two-door coupe in the traditional sense.
It wouldn’t be the first time Mazda has offered such a model, either, with a special fixed hardtop coupe model launching in Japan back in 2003.
That model, which included reworked body and chassis components, was limited to just 179 units.
We suspect that, while a soft-top is confirmed for the new MX-5, a hardtop is likely to again be of the folding variety - but perhaps with a more flowing coupe-like profile.
And that’s the latest. We won’t have to guess for much longer, though. Stay tuned to TMR for the new MX-5’s premiere this week.
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