Lowdown on fun
It seems faster when you are close to the bitumen, writesGRAHAMSMITH AT THE PUMP
SPORTS cars such as the MX-5 aren’t for everyone, but they are for anyone who wants their motoring to be a fun-filled experience.
Mazda was on a winner when it introduced the MX-5 in the late 1980s and rekindled interest in cars that were fun to drive. verts with the new car. Some of those may have been too tall to comfortably fit into the smaller twoseater, hence the new car was 40mm longer, 20mm higher and 40mm wider than the outgoing classic.
The extra dimensions reaped greater interior space with the result that the cockpit had more leg and shoulder room.
Despite being larger it was only 10kg more, thanks to using aluminium for chassis and body parts.
As with the body, the engine also grew, from 1.8 to 2 litres. With variable valve timing the larger power unit delivered performance peaks of 118kW at 6700 revs and 188Nm at 5000 revs.
Backing it up was a six-speed manual gearbox. A six-speed sports shift auto was an option.
Mazda engineers were keen to stress that they weren’t about setting new performance benchmarks with the MX-5. Their mission was to deliver a balance of performance and handling for the everyday driver.
To that end they delivered a stiffer body, extended the wheelbase by 65mm, widened the track and squeezed fat 17-inch rubber under the pumped-up guards.
LOOK to pay $25,000 to $30,000. MAZDA build quality is generally high and that equates to a reliable run in service. Owners report few problems. There are no inherent flaws that often crop up.
Check for a service record and look for signs of abuse through hard driving, even weekend motorsport.
The MX-5 will stand up to some hard driving, provided it’s well serviced. WITH a well-balanced and agile chassis, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-skid protection and electronic stability control, the MX-5 was well equipped to avoid a crash.
But if the metal did start crumpling there was dual front airbags as well as side airbags for protection. QUITE the fuel miser, the MX-5 will often return 8.5 litres for 100km in use around town. GARETH Walker and his wife bought a 2006 MX-5 with 40,000km on it and are very satisfied. He admits it’s not the fastest sports car, but it feels quick because of the low seats and tight suspension.
The six-speed manual gearbox ratios are probably a little close for city driving and they often skip gears on the way through, but the engine has enough torque to cope.
The roof is simple to operate. Only one hand is required to drop it, though getting it back up does require a little contortion in the driver’s seat. IF YOU like driving you’ll love the cute little Mazda sportster.
For the sports fan: the Mazda MX-5 may not be practical with families or for short trips around town, but it’s popular with people who like sports-car cruising.