Introducing The Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Special Edition

April 16, 2014 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 6, 2015
  • Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition celebrates the iconic roadster’s initial launch
  • Brand new SKYACTIV-Chassis for next-generation MX-5 also on display

Mazda will unveil the Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition today at the New York International Auto Show, celebrating the introduction a quarter of a century ago of what would become the most popular roadster in history. The unconventional Japanese carmaker is also exhibiting the newly developed SKYACTIV-Chassis that will underpin the next-generation MX-5.

The MX-5 is the model that best symbolises Mazda’s carmaking philosophy. Initially launched in 1989, the little roadster has consistently offered the kind of fun only a lightweight sports car can, winning a diversity of fans in terms of culture, geography and demography. More than 940,000* MX-5s have been produced over three generations, and it continues to hold the Guinness World Record for best selling two-seater sports car.

The Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition brings together two-and-a-half decades of fun. Based on the existing retractable hard top model with six-speed manual or automatic transmission, it features Bilstein shock absorbers along with a Soul Red Metallic exterior accented with a black roof, A-pillars and side mirrors. The interior, meanwhile, comes in off-white leather upholstery and door trim along with a hand-finished decorative panel.

Mazda will also reveal the new SKYACTIV-Chassis destined for the upcoming fourth-generation MX-5. On display together with the engine, it will be the first adaptation of SKYACTIV Technology in a front mid-ship engine, rear-wheel drive layout. With a lower centre of gravity and the engine located closer to the centre of the car, the next MX-5 will feature its most compact configuration yet. Mazda is also aiming to reduce overall weight by more than 100kg relative to the current model while at the same time enhancing rigidity and crashworthiness.

“The original concept behind the Mazda MX-5 was so simple: To offer the pure joy of a lightweight sport car that moves precisely as the driver intends,” says Mazda Motor Corporation Chairman of the Board Takashi Yamanouchi. “While responding to increasing safety and environmental requirements over the 25 years since its launch, we have had to continually reinvent the MX-5 far beyond simple evolution to stay true to that original ideal. The history of the MX-5 is one of changing everything to stay the same: A history of innovating in order to preserve.”

The New York International Auto Show is open to the public from 17-27 April.

Twenty-Five Years of Challenge: Engineering Devoted to Taking Our Original Aims Into the Future –  Nobuhiro Yamamoto (Mazda MX-5/Mazda Roadster program manager):

This February marked the 25th anniversary of the debut of the Mazda MX-5 Miata (Japanese name: Mazda Roadster). As program manager for the current model—and simply as a sports-car enthusiast—I am deeply grateful to all the people who created, fostered and supported this car over the years. To see so many people around the world keep giving their affection to the MX-5 even now, twenty-five years after its launch, makes me happier than I can express. It is thanks to their passion, and the different ways owners and fans enjoy this car, that the MX-5 has matured and evolved over the last quarter century. I also wish to express my gratitude and heartfelt respect to the European car makers who originally pioneered the fun-to-drive lightweight sports car, and to the many cars in the same category that followed the MX-5.

Right from the first generation, our philosophy for the MX-5’s development has remained the same: create a car that delivers true driving pleasure and is an irreplaceable partner for the people on board—and onlookers, too—brightening and cheering their mood. In addition to lessons learnt from our predecessors, we carried out advanced research into human sensitivity, developed new technologies, met a wide range of challenges, broke through barriers and finally realized the pleasure of the lightweight sports car at an entirely new level. This includes Mazda’s hallmark ‘Jinba Ittai,’ the feeling of oneness between car and driver, and the ‘Lots of Fun’ characteristics that go beyond driving pleasure. Since the beginning these two themes have been unchanging watchwords guiding the MX-5’s development as we continued to enhance the model’s driving pleasure while meeting increasingly pressing social demands for comfort, safety and environmental performance.

The MX-5 has steadily evolved in a way that is only possible thanks to an unchanging passion shared between Mazda and countless MX-5 owners and fans around the world. As the current program manager of such a unique product, I am both profoundly appreciative and keenly aware of the great responsibility I bear. That is why I feel a duty to further evolve the MX-5, to keep it as a lightweight sports car that anyone can enjoy, while continuing to meet the demands of society that are much greater than they were 25 years ago. ‘Innovate in order to preserve the ideal’ This is our duty as the developer, and at the same time it’s an exciting dream, a source of happiness, and something we are proud of. We are ready for the challenges of the next quarter century and beyond, always inspired by the passion of our fans around the world.

A History of Twenty-five Years – ‘Jinba Ittai’—the essential attribute

On February 9, 1989 Mazda announced its two-seat open-top lightweight sports car, the MX-5 Miata at the Chicago Auto Show. At that time, there were virtually no cars remaining in the category that had first appeared in Europe in the latter half of the 1940s, gaining popularity thanks to its agile handling, characteristic style and affordability. But after the 1960s the market focused more on safety and comfort, and the cars in this category had all but disappeared. For this reason, the debut of the MX-5 was a great sensation.

Causing a sensation, though, was not the aim of the engineers and designers at Mazda who produced the first-generation model. Their aim was simply to bring back a fun-to-drive lightweight sports car for people like themselves—people who just love cars and love to drive. In order to create a truly enjoyable car, the engineers and designers adopted ‘Jinba Ittai’ (the oneness between car and driver) and ‘a car that appeals to human sensitivity’ as the key development concepts. And following the example of famous European cars of the 1960s, they set the principal requirements for Mazda’s new sports car: lightweight, a compact open-top two-seater body with a front-midship-engine rear-wheel-drive configuration, a 50:50 front-rear weight distribution, a low yaw inertia moment and an affordable price.

With its layout dictated by these principal requirements and its weight pared to the minimum, the first-generation MX-5 was given a powertrain focused on smooth, linear accelerator response rather than raw power. This resulted in the exhilarating direct handling and superb control via the throttle so characteristic of Jinba Ittai. The first-generation model brought the pleasure of a traditional lightweight sports car, as experienced in an open-top two-seater cockpit, to the modern age. And as the MX-5 won awards in the US, Australia, Germany, the UK and Japan and, gained widespread popularity, fan clubs big and small began to spring up worldwide.

A second-generation model was announced at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1997, and was certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s ‘best-selling two-seat roadster’ when production reached 531,890 units in May 2000. The third-generation model was announced at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2005. Production reached 900,000 units in February 2011, which lead to an update of its Guinness certification. Of course, both the second- and the third-generation models inherited the MX-5’s basic principles, but simply maintaining those principals was not enough to meet people’s changing expectations. Adopting the latest technology and flexible thinking were essential to enhance driving performance and the fun elements of ownership that include eye-catching styling and meeting up with other MX-5 owners, while meeting ever more demanding requirements for safety, environmental performance and comfort.

Jinba Ittai driving has evolved and improved as technology advances, to the point where it is now an essential part of all the cars Mazda makes. The 25-year history of the Mazda MX-5 is the history of the pursuit of a unique driving feel in which the car and driver become one. It is also a record of the distance Mazda has traveled to establish its own inimitable style of driving pleasure.

Created Without Compromise and Dedicated to Mazda MX-5 Fans Worldwide –  Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition (US Specification)

The MX-5 reached its 25th birthday this February. The only reason we have reached such a landmark is thanks to the way fans around the world have enjoyed every day with this car. This long history means both customers and Mazda, as drivers and manufacturer, have shared a passion for the lightweight sports car and nurtured the dream together for a quarter-century. It is to these fans, the true stars of this 25-year love story between cars and people, that we dedicate the MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition.* This anniversary model was created to express our sincere gratitude to the millions of MX-5 enthusiasts around the world, and as such Mazda spared no effort in creating the very best MX-5 yet, the culmination of everything we have learnt about open-top lightweight sports cars over the past 25 years.

*Base model: VR RHT Power Retractable Hardtop model (with 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic transmission)

Lightweight engine parts selected for balance

The anniversary edition’s most special feature—even more remarkable since it cannot be seen—is the detail in the engine. Meticulous attention was paid to the weight and balance of the engine’s moving parts. Needless to say components such as the pistons, connecting rods and flywheel are preferably lightweight with low inertia, and the original tolerance of these components is set extremely fine. But even within these fine tolerances the engineers selected the best of the best, choosing only the lightest, best balanced parts for inclusion in the engine. The result is an engine that revs even more freely, delivering extraordinary response and acceleration as well as a deeply satisfying engine note.

Distinctive color combination of Soul Red Premium Metallic and Brilliant Black

Soul Red Metallic was specially adopted as the body color for the MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition. To date, this color has only been used for the Mazda6 mid-size sedan (Japanese name: Mazda Atenza), CX-5 compact SUV and Mazda3 compact car (Japanese name: Mazda Axela), and it is a color that symbolizes Mazda’s passion in the pursuit of driving pleasure. To create a striking color contrast, the A pillars are first painted in Brilliant Black and then masked by hand before the body paint is applied. This is just one example of the passion and attention to detail that Mazda has devoted to this special 25th anniversary model.

Hand-crafted attention to detail

The instrument panel has a specially-made decoration panel that features delicate, hand-painted Piano Black gradation on a red base. Because this finish is hand-crafted, the texture of the panel varies slightly from vehicle to vehicle. In addition, throughout the cockpit a variety of special items such as off-white leather seats that contrast with the Soul Red body color and red top-stitching celebrate the 25th anniversary.

2015 MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition’s special features:

• Pistons, connecting rods and flywheel which are carefully selected for the best balance

• Soul Red Metallic body color

• Brilliant Black roof, A-pillars, seatback bar garnish, door mirrors

• Black front combination lamp bezels

• 25th anniversary badge (with serial number)

• Off-white leather seats and door trim (with 25th anniversary logo and contrast red stitching)

• Piano Black steering wheel spokes

• Genuine leather steering wheel cover, manual transmission shift lever boot, parking brake lever handle and armrests which make effective use of contrast red stitching

• Hand-painted red decoration panel

• Stainless steel scuff plate (with 25th anniversary logo)

• Satin-chrome finished louver rings, meter rings and inner door handles

• Aluminum pedals

• Bridgestone® Potenza RE05A 205/45R17 84W tires and 17-inch Dark Gunmetal aluminum alloy wheels

• Bilstein dampers (manual-transmission model only)