MAZDA’S MX APPEAL
A new version of Mazda’s iconic MX-5 has hit the road — and it’s worth the wait.
IT’S here. At last. And great.
After more than a year we now know the all-new Mazda MX-5 is as good as we had hoped.
The pricing is sharp too, as Mazda Australia announces 2.0-litre pricing from $37,990 off the back of the $31,990 starting sticker for the 1.5-litre MX-5. There are eight models in total, split between Roadster and Roadster GT, 1.5 and 2.0litre engines, with manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes.
This week I’m driving the car in winter sunshine and it’s a pearler, fits like a glove, responds to my needs and wants, and even copes handily with lumps and bumps we never found on preview drives.
It’s a car that’s as light and sharp as the ’89 original, has a click-click six-speed manual gearbox, and a roof that’s an easy one-handed job to put up or down.
It’s only the 1.5-litre car, because the 2-litre engines are still several months away, which raises some questions and doubts. I’m a big fan of the baby motor because it has enough go for almost everything and makes you really drive the car instead of playing lazy, but its 96kW are challenged on a couple of long uphill climbs on the drive and I know a lot of people will want the 118kW and 200Nm in the “big banger”.
Designers focused on a couple of key points for the new MX-5, from an engine that is set 15mm further back and 50:50 weight distribution, to the effort that went into electric power steering and double-wishbone front suspension.
It’s also good to know there is Bluetooth with speakers in the headrest of the driver’s seat, but not so good to find you must pay extra for the reversing camera and parking radar that so many people now expect and demand.
On the road the weather is threatening so the top stays up for the first few kilometres, but only until the sunshine breaks through. The roof fits securely, noise levels are relatively low and then there is the delight of a folding mechanism that reminds me of the ’89 car in its simplicity and ease of use.
Now it’s time for a few runs to the 7500 red-line, a chance to test the shift, and feel the workings of the suspension.
The car is very compliant and that’s a surprise, because too many sports cars are too firm for their own — and the occupants’ — good.
There is instant response in every area and it’s easy to flow over crests without a precautionary brake because I know the car is going to turn and go in any situation. It’s a gem that’s being polished with every passing kilometre.
Then I switch from a fullyequipped Roadster GT, with a big display screen and bodycolour tops on the insides of the doors and nicer trim, into the basic 1.5 Roadster and there is nothing that disappoints.
As I’m parking for the final time I know the 2015 MX-5 is a landmark car. With autonomous driving just over the horizon, it proves there is still a place for a car that’s all about the driver.