For over a quarter century, Mazda's been working to perfect the roadster experience. The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 comes closer to that ideal than ever - the ideal of the driver becoming one with the car. The engineers have been tweaking and adjusting countless fine points - the body's proportions, for example, or the weight and center of gravity.
The new generation of the two-seater soft-top convertible appeared on the market last autumn. We tested the Mazda MX-5 with the smaller of the two gasoline engines putting out 96 kilowatts or 131 horsepower. It can make 100 kilometers per hour from zero in 8-point-3 seconds with a maximum speed of 204 kilometers per hour.
The new MX-5 has a lower center of gravity, as well. That affects the driving dynamics of this purist little sports car. The six-speed manual transmission with its tight gearing adds to the sports-car feel.
The MX-5's new design gives it a more emotional look, especially in front. The cockpit is set back a bit farther, but Mazda thought better of departing too much from the classical lines.
Surfaces inside the doors painted with the body's outside colors give the car a down-to-business look. The interior design is reduced to essentials but still comes across as elegantly sporty.
Even if it's child's play stowing the top or putting it back up, it may be a better idea to pull over for the procedure - in the interest of safety. Dispensing with expensive electronic gadgetry affects the price tag noticeably. The car we tested runs nearly 23-thousand, 900 euros in Germany - an important factor in this success story.