Is It Time For A New Mazda MX-5?

As competitors have faded away, clarified their upmarket positions, suffered from the complete demise of their respective brands, or failed to reach production, the Mazda MX-5 has aged.

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That a sports car should suffer from declining sales as it ages is nothing new; nothing unique to Mazda's roadster. But the MX-5, though great even in its current form, is really and truly very old by the modern standards of new vehicle replacement cycles. There have only been three all-new MX-5s since the first model arrived... back when the first Bush sat in the Oval Office.

The MX-5 is currently being outsold by stalwarts of the very low-volume auto industry with names like Sedona, Panamera, MKT, and Q70.

It's America's 211th-best-selling vehicle line so far this year.

Mazda has announced that the fourth MX-5 will be revaled on September 3 of this year. Jalopnik's coverage of that simple fact resulted in 174 comments/replies earlier this month. It'll be big news, it'll stretch beyond the online automotive community to the mainstream press. Mazda themselves will attempt to draw a huge amount of attention to the debut of the new car, hoping all the while that some of that attention will reflect off the MX-5 and deflect onto the 3, 6, and CX-5. And the 5 that nobody buys.

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We naturally have high hopes for the next MX-5, not just in terms of its weight loss, back road prowess, style, and pricing, but in terms of its marketplace success. A decade ago, we would have all agreed that a Ford-assisted Mazda would build the MX-5 forever, so successful the car had proven to be. That's not such a foregone conclusion now, and Mazda has, in practice, acknowledged that by linking up with Fiat to share costs.

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Low-volume automakers don't build $25K roadsters so they can sell fewer than 550 per month in the vast U.S. market, as Mazda has averaged over the last 5.5 years.

But over 1000/month? The way Mazda sold MX-5s between 2002 and 2006? That's a long-term recipe.

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