MAZDA MX-5 2.0GT
Can the Italians improve on an iconic Japanese sports car? Richard Blackburn gives a verdict
The RRP is about $2500 less than the Abarth but Fiat’s drive-away deal of $43,500 makes it cheaper on the road. There are daytime running lights, satnav, premium audio with nine speakers and heated leather seats. Warranty, as with the 124, is three years but is unlimited, not 100,000km. Servicing costs $1371 over three years. Most metallic paints are no-cost options.
Curves are in all the right places. The seats are supportive, while the cabin layout is uncluttered. The centre display menus are navigated via a dial rather than touchscreen — rivals take note. Red stitching and fake carbon-fibre highlights lift the mood, as do the air vents resembling jet engine intakes. Coloured metal inserts on the doors add a splash of colour. Hand-operated cloth roof is simple and fast.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder revs sweetly and smoothly, working best higher in the rev range. Peak torque comes at 4600rpm and peak power at 6000rpm. It won’t push you back in your seat off the line but find its sweet spot and there’s ample urge for spirited driving. Mazda claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.3 seconds and thirst of 6.9L/100km.
The MX-5 scored five stars in local ANCAP testing with 35.2/37. It gets front and side airbags and tyre pressure monitor but otherwise it is light on for driver assist/ crash avoidance. Features available on cheaper Mazdas aren’t even options. Most notable omission is a reversing camera.
It’s proof you don’t need blistering performance to have fun. The lightweight body, sharp steering, rear-drive and well-sorted suspension make it ideal for a tight, twisty coastal road. It may not be as razor-sharp as the 124 on a track but it’s more comfortable.