In 1989 you got ‘Mazda Experiment, Project Number Five’, which would become the world’s fastest-selling sports car.
The possibility of a reasonable open-top was not really new to Japan. Going before decades had seen peculiarities, for example, the Datsun Fairlady, Honda S500 and Toyota Sports 800 develop, frequently as their youngster creators’ first generation models. Be that as it may, before the finish of the 1970s, with the destruction of such symbols as the Triumph Spitfire, MG B and unique Lotus Elan, the section was thought to be in decay.
It was these models, though, that Mazda dissected during the MX-5’s development, and they are among the reasons why it emerged in 1989 as a small, sub-one-tonne, front-engined, rear-drive, perfectly balanced home run.
Ironically, the MX-5’s success found a counterpoint almost immediately in the lukewarm reception and ailing sales figures that greeted the all-new Elan which emerged only a few months later, lumbered as it was by a higher price, lumpier looks and front-wheel drive.
The first MX-5 was arguably the model’s dynamic high point. Its successors were generally very good too, but they became progressively more powerful, bigger, heavier and that bit less exciting to drive.
Now Mazda – with its Skyactiv engineering programme in full swing – insists it has returned to the old template. Shorter, lower, wider and – most importantly – lighter, the new MX-5 comes with a choice of either 1.5 or 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines and the promise of unparalleled ‘Jinba ittai’ – the manufacturer’s catch-all term for oneness between car and driver. For 2016, Mazda created the fourth iteration of its special edition Icon model, which we drove around Iceland to announce its arrival, and coming in 2017 is the hard-top Mazda MX-5 RF.
Just as importantly, the car starts at less than £20k, meaning that everyone currently considering a small hot hatch is in the ballpark. Can the new MX-5 do as much as its forebear to turn their heads?
To find out what our sister site, What Car? thought of the Mazda MX-5, watch the video below.