MAZDA has sharpened the performance of its MX-5 in the face of the new threat from the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ twins.
The latest changes are likely to be the final upgrade to the current Mazda MX-5 ahead of the launch of the next generation model, expected by the end of 2014.
But the Japanese company is adamant the world's best-selling roadster won't radically change to take on the 86/BRZ head-to-head.
"We're aware that people are talking about the MX-5 as a competitor to the 86 and BRZ but we don't see it quite as black and white as that," Mazda Australia public relations manager Steve Maciver said.
"Yes, it's a sports car, but it's an open-top two-seater and we think that makes a big difference. We're fairly firm in what we want (the next model) to be, and that hasn't changed (since 86/BRZ arrival)."
Maciver refused to discuss pricing, including the possibility of a price cut to better compete with the new competition.
The 86 undercuts the MX-5 on price by between $8775 and $14,275.
As for this latest change, there's some tweaks to the front bumper, which Mazda claims improve aerodynamics, but the big news is under the bonnet.
A more aggressive throttle management mode means the car is more responsive under acceleration.
The brake software has also been optimised for improved stopping power and stability.
The next-generation MX-5 is expected to cut weight and embrace the company's SkyActiv fuel-saving technologies.
It will also split development and build costs with Alfa Romeo, which will use the MX-5 underpinnings as the basis for the next generation Spider.
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