The all-new Mazda Roadster, as the MX-5 is known in Japan, is the 2015-2016 Car of the Year Japan. It is the second time the iconic two-seater has captured the home country’s most prestigious automobile prize after the previous generation did so in 2005-06. The new MX-5 is also the third Mazda from the highly acclaimed current model generation in the past four years to win Car of the Year Japan following the Mazda CX-5 (2012-13) and Mazda2 (2014-15).

Among other things, the award jury praised the passion and workmanship that went in the new MX-5 as well as Mazda’s unwavering commitment to the lightweight fun-to-drive sports car, which now spans 26 years since the model was initially launched.

The fourth generation MX-5 features SKYACTIV Technology and a stunning KODO – Soul of Motion design. And it’s still a blast to drive: Mazda has stuck to the Jinba Ittai rider-and-horse-as-one concept with the front-mid engine, rear-wheel drive layout, lowering the centre of gravity, optimising the driving position and cutting around 100kg compared to the previous model generation. Power is transferred from one of two petrol units – the high-revving SKYACTIV-G 1.5 or higher output SKYACTIV-G 2.0 – through a crisp, lightweight SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission. The new MX-5 also features an easy-to-operate manual soft top, a more practical boot shape and the latest i-ACTIVSENSE active safety technology. It went on sale in Europe in late summer.

All passenger cars with expected annual sales of at least 500 units and announced or launched in Japan between 1 October 2014 and 31 October 2015 were eligible for this year's award. The new MX-5 is the sixth Mazda to win Car of the Year Japan since the contest began in 1980.  “This result is thanks to everyone's enthusiastic support, and we are both grateful and proud that our Roadster has received such a prestigious award,” said Masamichi Kogai, President and CEO of Mazda. “Inspired by this win, we will continue building cars that offer driving pleasure, aiming to become a ‘one-and-only’ for our customers that they will choose again and again.”