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Goodwood FOS 2015: I now TOTALLY GET the new MX5.

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Photographs are garbage. Sorry, photographers, you’re all wonderful people, but life happens in Three Dimensions.

In an image you can see the language behind a design. You can decide whether, in principle, you like it. Just like skim-reading a book, you can get the gist of what’s going on with a single glance. Of course, the better the photo, the more information you get, and the better you can appreciate the details, but you can only see something from the same perspective of the photographer. Stop me if I begin to state the obvious.

When I saw the photos of the New MX5 I was all, like, “Oh”. But now I’ve walked around it, touched it, been inside, I’m all, like, “Mmmm”.

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Original MX5 was Right. Yes, yes, blah blah Lotus Elan blah Copy blah. But the Elan was one of the very finest lightweight sportscars of all time, it was about bloody time somebody imitated it. Looking back at the first MX5 today it seems almost too simple. The hyperactive and short spanned of attention might call it bland. In a way, it was. Certainly there was nothing there that didn’t need to be. No silly garnish.

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It also ended up being a blank canvas. So many Eunoses found themselves “improved” (or “ruined”, depending) with more power, more sophisticated suspension setups, the lot. Today it’s rare indeed to find one which doesn’t vary at least a little from factory issue.

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I was worried when Mazda started talking about “Kodo” design language. My concern was that the stylists might get carried away and that our beloved sporty little baby would become some overwrought, twisty-turny design nightmare.

So when I saw the new one, the first thing I thought of was “Feed me, Seymour”, with that big daft hungry-looking, gaping grille, and that was my decision made. I didn’t really like it. The MX5 looked like a new product to replace an old one, not a work of genius nor a continuation of a near mythical bloodline.

Now, all of a sudden, it’s turned into something else.

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Walking around the MX5 I became acutely aware of the shortcomings of photographs. Now, live, in high-resolution, real time 3D I was able to properly decode what it was I was looking at. I know there’s nothing particularly complicated going on, but I’m now relieved that, well, there’s nothing very complicated going on. They haven’t over-designed the MX5. They’ve simply reborn it.

I like the headlamps. Yes, they’re squinty, but at least they aren’t doe-eyed or cutesy. They clearly acknowledge the fixed sidelights on the original. Shame pop-ups can never come back, but that would only be any good for the sake of nostalgia, anyway.

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I like the rear lights even more. Far less generic than any others previously fitted to an MX5, yet not exactly ornate. Just clean, crisp and somehow rich-looking. Actually, the more I looked at them, the more I thought them to be little works of art.

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I also think they lend the car a bit of a scaled-down Jaguar F-Type appearance. Am I the only person who sees this? The F-Type is conceptually miles apart from the MX5 ethos, but looks good, and this looks good. So it doesn’t really matter either way. Whatever, it looks muscular and determined, without looking pumped-up. Or over-ornate.

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I really like the cockpit.  They’re still acknowledging historical MX5 cues like the round air vents, and it’s not as much of a button-fest as we might have feared.  Plus, the gear shifter looks oh-so-operable, the handbrake looks really well placed for acts of wanton playfulness, and there are body coloured accents which create the illusion of letting the outside in.

I love it when the inside of a car expresses the exterior. A sports car shouldn’t conceal its driver from the reality of what they’re piloting. It should be an extension of the outside of the car. The MX5 achieves this.

I’m itching to drive this car. My only hope is that the fashionably big wheels haven’t brought about an all-grip-no-feel driving experience. The old car was HILARIOUS even at only 4o mph. I only hope the new one can offer just as much easy fun.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

 

  • Fuhrman16

    Author complains about photography, precedes to show off a bunch of photos. 😉
    But in all serious, I think the new MX-5 is a good looking thing indeed.

    • I knew my tirade was flawed….

      • Rover 1

        No, it was inspired.

  • Citric

    Interesting detail: The shape of the taillights is reflected in the shape of the center air vents.

    • Vairship

      Or (considering that the vents were inspired by the vents on the original) it’s the other way around.
      A-round…
      Man, this is deep! 😉

  • mseoul

    Aren’t the tire to fender gaps rather large? I’ve seen different, better, smaller gaps on some of the original JDM launch car photos but a much larger, 4 X 4-looking gap on the US production model that “Car and Driver” tested. The car on these photos seems to have the same large gaps as the US car. Is it sitting on its tires or is it raised on some kind of podium under the car?

  • Tomsk

    Interesting that they picked a U.S.-spec NA Miata to display over there. Am I correct in assuming it’s one of the early-build auto show cars?

    • Well spotted! I honestly didn’t notice.

    • meoul

      Is it US spec? Looks RHD, no?

    • alainrw

      it is US spec, mazda’s press car, i’ve seen it before IIRC, barely any miles, over 1k IIRC, and i think they’ve let the press drive it to compare to the new MX-5

  • My wife thought “F-Type” as well, when we saw it at Sebring. It’s got some BMW traits as well, I think. Generally, I think “upscale” is a good word for it. Upscale, simple, and elegant. And I agree about how it looks better in person. I actually liked it a lot when I saw it on screen, but in person, it really looks fantastic. Hopefully I’ll get to compare one, from the driver’s seat, with my ’95 some time.

  • JBsC6

    I was so taken by mazda’s effort to recreate the first generation driving experience I recently picked up a 60k mile 1994 1.8 liter mx5. I know why so much effort was put in recreating the fun driving experience…

    It truly is a masterpiece.

    Fast ? Nope…but fun ? Without question…

    Most smiles per miles and a joy to drive. Excellent reporting and I look forward to seeing the latest mx5 in person.

    • alainrw

      i learned how to drive stick on my dads 92 miata, he still has it, has a boss frog double hoop roll bar, full poly bushings, a 96 1.8 in it, along with the bigger brakes, no power steering, tokico sport ultima 5 way adjustable shocks (1.5 inch drop). we did the work ourselves. now it has konis in the rear as the tokicos wore out. my dad recently got it running again (had a belt come off the water pump and a few other issues that have been tidied up). love those NA’s. almost got one, but got a 96 318ti bmw instead. still a light car, but with back seats and a ton of space in the hatch

  • alainrw

    i saw that NA in a car show in TX, hopped the rope to check the interior and miles on it (barely any) such a beautiful NA, though i’d love one in blue, the story behind that blue is that mazda usa took a CA blue plate and sent it to Mazda Japan and had them match the color.