MAZDA has the Toyota 86 in its crosshairs with a two-tiered MX-5 line-up aimed at tempting younger buyers back to the iconic roadster.
For the first time the MX-5 will be offered in Australia with the choice of two engines – a 1.5-litre four-cylinder and a 2.0-litre four (MX-5s have previously had 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines, but only one has been available at any one time).
The smaller of the two direct injection engines, with just 96kW of power and selling from about $37K, will be the price leader and used to tempt younger buyers, something that has eluded the current $47,280 MX-5 as it approaches its 25th anniversary and rushes towards one million sales globally.
Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders said the current model was predominantly bought by people “reliving their youth” and that the younger buyers that once queued for MX-5s were now buying other vehicles, with the Toyota 86 and its Subaru BRZ twin at the top of the list.
“What we want to do with this new one, with the 1.5, is get back to our roots and start attracting some younger people,” said Benders, pointing to the success of the 86 and BRZ.
"What that’s shown is if you can get an attractive package in the $30-40 grand range you can get some serious volume out of it. There are young people out there wanting the right sort of car to drive … hopefully we can deliver an MX-5 package that does that to them.”
Benders said he did not want to alienate the older buyers who have kept the current generation of the diminutive roadster popular in the twilight of its life.
“I want to keep the current demographic but widen it.”
The new MX-5, codenamed ND and due in the third quarter of 2015, will bring with it an all-new body that is shorter than even the original MX-5 from 1989.
It also gets the most radical styling departure from all previous generations of MX-5s – the original NA, the NB and the NC that will soon be replaced.