Demonstrating you don't need a lot of power to have fun, the Mazda MX-5 is living proof a car can be truly sporty and exciting to drive with significantly less than 200 hp. While the US-spec Miata is available only with a 2.0-litre engine rated at 181 bhp, the Zoom-Zoom company sells the roadster in other parts of the world, such as the UK, with a smaller 1.5-litre unit producing just 130 bhp.
The ND-generation model has gone back to its roots by shaving off as much weight as possible, and with this new 990S special edition for Japan, Mazda is taking a step further. In case you haven't figured out by now, the little sports car tips the scales at a mere 990 kilograms (2,182 pounds). To put that number into perspective, it's only 30 kg (66 lbs) heavier than the original MX-5 NA from 1989.
According to the Japanese magazine Car Watch, the JDM-only MX-5 990S gets Rays alloy wheels shaving off a total of 3.2 kg (7 lbs) and features Brembo callipers and rotors at the front axle. The callipers are now black and are adorned with "Brembo" lettering in light blue. Mazda has fitted the petite roadster with a navy-blue soft top, matched on the inside by the air vent surrounds. The cabin eschews the touchscreen of the infotainment system for a more basic setup and boasts special floor mats with "Roadster" lettering in blue.
There are additional changes to the 990S as it also receives a different tune for the dampers and springs. Mazda's engineers tweaked the electric power steering and removed the sound-deadening material from the dashboard and bonnet. A similar version with the larger 2.0-litre engine is not on the agenda, even though the engineers say it would be technically possible.
In an interview with Car Watch, 990S development chief Shigeki Saito said "Horsepower and fun are not proportional, but lightness and fun are proportional. If you increase horsepower, you will inevitably become heavier because you have to strengthen the body, etc. The lighter the car, the more fun it is. If you enjoy driving, I think this roadster is the best right now."
The car's unveiling at an event in Japan was a surprise and the 990S has yet to be officially announced on Mazda's local website. Although it's labelled as a special edition, it won't be produced in limited quantities as the company wants it to be enjoyed by "as many people as possible." It's scheduled to go on sale in the Land of the Rising Sun before the end of the year, with pricing details to be disclosed closer to its launch.