The smile-a-mile roadster is kept fresh by subtle model-year updates
What is it?
The PS30,000 Mazda MX-5 is here. Our photographer commented, “That’s not the MX-5 about.”
Although the price seems quite high, Mazda claims that this is a GT Sport Tech 2.0-litre GT Sport Tech. A 1.5-litre car can be purchased for just PS24,775. This is a more blatant indication of how absurd car prices have become than any greediness on Mazda’s behalf.
The MX-5 remains a rare offering in the new car market. It is a sensible, two-seat sportscar with a naturally aspirated motor, a manual gearbox, and rear-wheel drive. While the Toyota GR86 will likely do the same, you cannot take the roof off of that car.
We are driving the MX-5 again to remind ourselves of its brilliance. Platinum Quartz Metallic paint is a kind of metallic champagne. Mazda sent us a Polymetal Grey one.
Kinematic Posture Control has been added to the MX-5. This is basically mild torque-vectoring through braking that reduces body roll. It’s difficult to determine if the MX-5 actually works without comparing it to an older model. Even the high-spec model with Bilstein dampers and sports suspension rolls better than you would expect from a modern sportscar.
There are plenty of companies that offer stiffer springs, anti roll bars, and almost any other modification you may need for your MX-5. However, the body movement is a great addition to the charmingly old-school feel. The MX-5 is the most interactive car at this price, thanks to its responsive steering and manual gearbox, which snickers through the gears, and the possibility of sliding down tight corners.
Low driving position and long bonnet make this a memorable experience. If you enjoy open-air motoring, the manual canopy, which can be put up or taken down in under 10 seconds, is an excellent example of “less is more”. The Mazda MX-5RF offers a metal folding roof for around PS2000 more.
An MX-5 doesn’t have to make you suffer for the driving pleasure. It’s comfortable and gets 42 mpg at cruise. Mazda’s multimedia system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is well-designed. However, the touchscreen sometimes stops working while the car is moving.
Do I need one?
This is the ultimate sports car. It is not. You won’t pay the PS80,000 premium for a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS that’s only spunked on carbonfibre winglets. The MX-5’s roofless body can flex, creating a lot of vibrations and shivers on bumpy roads. This also adds an element of imprecision to the steering. Although the engine is a little loud, it’s not terribly purposeful. The interior is still beautiful, but it’s difficult and scratchy.
My smile grew every time I drove the MX-5, and it still brought a big smile to my face. Mazda hasn’t made any significant improvements and it didn’t need to. It’s still a great car.