The long-awaited third-generation Mazda MX-5 roadster received its first public outing at this month’s Geneva Motor Show.

Since the launch of the first Mazda MX-5 in 1989, Mazda’s two-seater sports car has defined affordable, fun to drive cars. Over the past 16 years, Mazda has continued to develop and evolve the classic concept of that first vehicle.

The guiding principle in developing the third-generation Mazda MX-5 was the close relationship between driver and car: the Japanese concept ‘Jinba Ittai’, which literally translates as ‘oneness between horse and rider’.

Two new engines from Mazda’s MZR family power the new Mazda MX-5, a 1.8-litre petrol with 126ps at 6,500rpm with maximum torque of 167Nm at 4,500rpm and even more powerful 2.0-litre petrol producing 160ps at 6,700rpm and 188Nm of maximum torque at 5,000rpm powering the top-of-the-range model.

Both engines are placed in a front mid-ship rear-wheel drive layout with a powerplant frame that delivers direct response to pedal input and driving fun. Mazda’s newly developed six-speed manual transmission is available as well as a five-speed manual transmission, both engineered to be operated with low effort and a short sporty throw. Engineers developed a chassis system that responds in a linear, precise and predicable manner. To facilitate this is Mazda MX-5’s light but stiff body shell, its 50:50 weight distribution, wider wheelbase and a larger front and rear track.

Importantly, double wishbone front suspension and a newly-developed multi-link rear suspension enhance the ride and handling of the new Mazda MX-5, while retaining the car’s sporting appeal through feedback to the road.

Providing a base for the new Mazda MX-5’s superior safety systems is a significantly stiffer body shell suited to the newly introduced side airbags (on 2.0-litre only) positioned inside each seat backrest. Comfort and convenience are enhanced with extra storage, air vents and an air-deflector, allowing air into the cockpit reducing buffeting and top-down turbulence.

The new Mazda MX-5’s exterior design, like its predecessor, is a combination of fun and modern styling, while the interior is designed to provide a snug sports car cabin, simple functionality and comfort with high levels of craftsmanship.

The new MX-5 will go on sale in the UK later this year.