The world’s best selling two-seat sports car has just reached its 25th birthday, and with an all-new, fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 on the horizon, Mazda is celebrating the occasion with a limited-run version.
Appropriately named the 25th Anniversary Limited Edition, this last hurrah for the third-generation MX-5 will be restricted to a production run of just 1,000 models.
Yet Britain’s perpetual love affair with open-top roadsters means Mazda has allocated 750 of these cars to UK customers. The company has used the current range-topping 2.0-litre Sport Tech Nav model as a base for the Anniversary Limited Edition, but adds a whole host of extra equipment and some eye-catching design tweaks.
Every model is finished in Soul Red metallic paint, which is offset by the black door mirrors, A-pillars and power-folding hard-top, while new 17-inch alloys, a rear diffuser and chrome-tipped exhaust pipes round off the exterior look.
Let’s not forget this generation of MX-5 is now nine years old, so the interior is beginning to look a little rough around the edges. Still, Mazda has injected some life into things, trimming the cabin in a light stone leather, with contrasting red stitching on the seats, steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake. In keeping with the colour scheme, a hand-painted dark red dashboard decoration panel has been fitted, as well as a headrest embossed in the 25th Anniversary logo. Built into the new-look dash and specific to the Limited Edition is a 6.1-inch Alpine touchscreen navigation system, featuring Bluetooth, USB connectivity and a DVD player. It’s responsive, although it does have an aftermarket look, while the interface isn’t the most user-friendly, either.
All the changes to the Anniversary model are purely cosmetic, meaning there are no mechanical adjustments to mention. Mazda will save its latest SkyActiv chassis and engine technology for the all-new model, which will arrive next year, but in the meantime the company has stuck with its tried and tested 158bhp 2.0-litre engine and six-speed manual gearbox.
Cynics have often criticised the MX-5 for being underpowered, but they’re nit picking at an otherwise well honed product. As with every example of the roadster, this model remains naturally aspirated, so if you want to access all 158bhp you really have to work it, but that’s no bad thing. The engine spins all the way up to 7,000rpm, and it’s here that you’ll get access to all of the grunt, accompanied by a raspy exhaust note.
The car never feels lightening quick, although a 7.9-second 0-62mph sprint time is still fairly brisk. Then again, the MX-5 has never been about outright pace. The stubby gearlever slides crisply between the six ratios, while the beautifully precise steering lets you make use of the car’s agile set-up.
There are a few refinement issues – with the roof in place, wind noise isn’t very well contained, and at motorway speeds the interior can become rather noisy. Having said that, for a two-seat sports car, the standard Bilstein dampers give a surprisingly supple ride without turning the Mazda into a wallowing mess when you arrive at a corner.
And the good news keeps on coming. Despite the added extras inside and out, the Anniversary Edition works out £300 cheaper than the current top-spec MX-5.