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MX-5 facelift revealed

Revised: A new nose and clear-lens indicators differentiate the updated MX-5 from the current model.

Mazda's evergreen MX-5 has been superseded by an updated version in Japan

15 Jul 2000

MAZDA has provided the first glimpse of its facelifted MX-5, due here in November.

External changes include the incorporation of the company's signature "five-point" mouth - which is now flanked by brake cooling ducts.

The headlamps consist of a multi-reflector-type high beam and projector-type low beam. Additionally, clear-lens indicators are used at the front and rear.

The updated interior is distinguished by white-faced instruments with chrome surrounds.

Japanese-spec versions of the car are offered with new 16-inch rims, but Mazda Australia spokesman Mr Mike Quist said it was yet to be decided whether these wheels would be standard equipment here.

The current MX-5 rides on 15-inch rims.

Mazda Australia managing director Mr Malcolm Gough said specification details were being finalised, based on factors such as exchange rate movements, freight rate increases and other cost rises.

"While we will endeavour to keep the MX-5 the best sports car value-for-money on the Australian market, the facelift model will cost well over $40,000 while the current model at $38,795 is selling at less in this post-GST period than its 1998 launch price", he said.

Nevertheless, the price hike will be compensated by a new sequential valve timing (S-VT) engine that improves power and torque, while also lowering fuel consumption and CO2 and NOx emissions.

The S-VT mechanism continuously varies the open-close timing of the inlet valves to optimise valve timing under all driving conditions.

Power and torque outputs of the revised 1.8-litre powerplant rise to 118kw at 7000rpm and 170Nm at 5500rpm - compared with 106kW at 6500rpm and 165Nm at 4500rpm for the current model.

Complementing the improved performance is a more rigid body said to deliver better handling and a smoother ride.

Enlarged brake components provide improved stopping power, as well as greater pedal feel.

In Japan, models equipped with 16-inch tires have larger brake discs, while cars equipped with smaller wheels have over-sized master cylinders and boosters.

An anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) is also available in Japan but time will tell whether this feature is offered here.

MX-5 sales have slowed this year with 452 sold until the end of June - compared with 831 for the same period last year.

The sales slowdown can be partly attributed to the launch of the updated BMW Z3 last June and Honda S2000 last August.

Meanwhile, the MX-5 has been certified as the world's top selling lightweight, two-seat roadster by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, MX-5 production totalled 565,779 units until the end of June and is still growing.

The vehicle is known as Roadster in Japan and Miata in North America.

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