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This is it, the fourth-generation ‘ND’ 2015 Mazda MX-5 roadster, a new iteration of the Japanese brand’s modern classic entrusted with carrying the baton held by its record-selling predecessors.

Revealed today with some fanfare in the US, Spain and its home of Japan, the new model is made to return the car to its humble roots, not so much reinventing the wheel as bringing it full-circle. The car you see here is the shortest of any MX-5, and lighter than any we have seen in years.

The new version of the world’s top-selling sportscar — as of July this year, 940,000 and counting including almost 17,000 in Australia — is the fourth update since the iconic 1989 original, itself a then-modern take on the classic 1960s British icons from the likes of MG and Triumph.

Mazda no doubts hopes this car returns some of the magic to its sales figures. The current more expensive NC version has sold in appreciably smaller figures (half or less) over the past six years of its nearly nine-year life-cycle than the NA and NB iterations regularly did.

Long-anticipated and much-publicised, the new two-seater MX-5 is the first properly sporty application of the company’s weight-saving and cost-favourable Skyactiv suite of platforms, engines and transmissions.

It is 95 millimetres shorter yet 10mm wider than before (3915mm long, 1730mm wide and 1235mm high) and — as repeatedly promised — weighs about 100 kilograms less thanks to significant use of aluminium on the boot and bonnet, fenders and bumpers and the fitment of a lighter fabric roof.

The company has therefore put a rubber-stopper on the progressive increase in size and weight over the first three generations brought about, Mazda says, by safety requirements. This one is actually 35mm shorter than the NA generation from 1989.

Hallmarks such as even weight distribution (now exactly 50:50), rear-wheel-drive and an emphasis on lightness rather than power continue unabated — in fact, they appear to be enhanced. Mazda’s team of marketers describes this approach with the maxim “innovate in order to preserve”.

It might also be because the company has set its own bar that much higher. The company says the ethos it calls Jinba Ittai (horse and rider becoming one) that emphasises lightness and driver-focus is now carried over to its more humble cars such as the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 too. Apparently.

Full write up here!
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