Jinba Ittai is a Japanese saying that describes the unity of the horse and rider as one. The Mazda Motor Corporation use this saying to describe the experience of driving their roadster, the Mazda MX-5.
The Mazda MX-5 is a lightweight two-seater convertible sports car manufactured by Mazda in Japan. Ever since its release in 1989, Mazda has implemented the Jinba Ittai principle to ensure that the experience of driving the MX-5 was always the best. "When the car and driver are in perfect harmony, driving is fun."
It was built on the nostalgia of the British roadsters of the 1960s. Unlike those early roadsters, the core principle of the Mazda MX-5 was to be more reliable, starting first time every time, never overheating and didn't leak oil all over your driveway.
The principles of Jinba Ittai has ensured that each generation of the Mazda MX-5 incorporates these five key design elements:
- The vehicle needs to be compact and as the light as possible.
- The cabin needs to accommodate two passengers in comfort, with no wasted space.
- To maintain a 50:50 weight distribution, the engine is located in the front, just behind the front axle.
- Suspension on each wheel is to be wishbone or multi-link to maximize tyre performance, road grip, and dynamic stability.
- Include a power-plant frame to provide a stable connection between the engine and rear-mounted differential to sharpen throttle response.
The result is a perfectly balanced sports car, with a driving experience that can be pushed to the limits, without going over.