The long wait is over, here it is: Mazda’s all-new 2015 MX-5, the fourth generation of the world's best-selling sports car.
We first reported on the new MX-5 back in 2010, when the earliest whispers of a smaller and lighter new model surfaced.
At the time, it was believed the new MX-5 would appear in 2012, around seven years since the NC generation first appeared.
Almost precisely one year later, Japanese magazine Holiday Auto published what it claimed to be the first official patent drawing of the new MX-5.
Although a mere outline, the drawing suggested that speculation of the earlier Shinari concept’s role as a preview of the new MX-5 was well off base.
Flash forward to 2014, in fact mere weeks before the new MX-5’s unveiling, and a revealing new spy video combined with comments from Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders to throw the game wide open.
Today, that’s all over. Now we see just how close - and how far - those rumours, reports and renders came to predicting the final package.
It also appears yesterday's (not so) speculative rendering of the new MX-5 was near dead-on, suggesting that we may soon hear about a certain Mazda staffer copping a stern slap on the wrist.
This new MX-5 marks the most dramatic departure from the roadster's now iconic 'soapbar' looks, while at the same time returning to the energetic proportions of earlier generations.
As promised, the new roadster represents an evolution of Mazda's new 'Kodo' design language, which can be seen across the brand's newest passenger models.
At the front, a pair of slender and tightly pointed headlights sitting proud above that familiar wide-open grille and a pair of triangular housings for the tall LED daytime lights.
The deeply raked face extends up and out to muscular front guards, mirrored at the rear by even more powerfully set haunches.
Through the profile, those new lines also create a more curved and wave-like shape, rather than the flat shape of the outgoing NC model.
The new roadster's rear showcases similarly compact tail-lights, with a hooked indicator and reverse-light arrangement terminating at a large circular brake light.
The high rear deck ends now at a sharp dropoff, doing away with the rounded backside of previous generations.
Tall lower lights and a dual exhaust arrangement round out the rear-end styling features.
"While paying due respect to the British as the pioneers of the genre and to the first-generation MX-5 as the car that rebuilt it in the modern age, the design aim for the all-new MX-5 was to create the ideal image of a Mazda lightweight sports car," Mazda says.
In the cabin, we see a more complex design than any previous MX-5, with a two-tier dash design, appropriately classic-look circular air vents, and a high centre console.
A small-diameter sports steering wheel sits between leather-trimmed sports seats and a new three-panel instrument cluster that appears inspired by that of the latest Mazda passenger range.
Mazda says its intent with the interior was to "melt away the boundaries between the inside and outside of the car".
"The aim for the interior was to create a cockpit design that brings a smile to the face and gets the heart pounding just by looking at it, or by simply sitting in the driver’s seat," the company says.
Body, Dimensions & Weight
One area already well detailed is the new MX-5's architecture, revealed officially back in April.
Built on Mazda's SkyActiv technology, the new MX-5 boasts a 50:50 front-rear weight distribution, with the engine positioned almost entirely behind the front axle.
The new chassis is focused on strength and light-weight construction - but Mazda has again confirmed only that the new MX-5 is "up to" 100kg lighter than its predecessor.
That will bring it very close to 1000kg, and a figure of around 1030kg is expected.
Mazda says the new model, with its low-set engine, also boasts the lowest centre of gravity yet for the MX-5 range.
The new MX-5 measures 3915mm long and 1235mm tall, making it 105mm shorter nose-to-tail and 20mm lower.
The new model's aggressive look is helped through its width, now measuring 10mm wider than the NC at 1730mm.
As promised, the new roadster's wheelbase is shorter than the outgoing model, now down 15mm to 2315mm. Wheel track is still to be revealed.
Inside, Mazda promises better accommodation for taller drivers, with the cabin moved further toward the rear. The company says this also "creates the appearance that the occupants are sitting at the body’s midpoint".
For now, the new MX-5 has been specified only with a soft-top folding roof, although we may againsee a folding hard-top down the road.
The new roadster rides on 16-inch light alloy wheels, wrapped in 195/50-series tyres. (It won't be long before we see examples dropped on larger wheels... - Ed.)
Powertrain Details... Remain Unknown
No surprise, of course, that Mazda remains tight-lipped on engine size and output. No doubt making the most of an opportunity for further exposure down the road.
For now, we know the new MX-5 will be driven by one of Mazda's new SkyActiv-G petrol engines.
Whether that will be the Mazda's 85kW/144Nm 1.5-litre unit or the Mazda3's larger 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre mill, is unclear.
Reports also point to a more powerful tune of that 2.0 litre engine, but Mazda is keeping quiet for now.
For everything known about the MX-5’s mechanical package right now, check out our What To Expect article.
The new MX-5 is expected to make its Australian debut around this time next year - yes, still a full year away.
Pricing remains unclear, although Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders has hinted in weeks past that a starting point below $40,000 is the goal.
Watch for more details on the MX-5 to surface in the coming weeks and months.