New style a sheer de­light to drive

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

Mazda MX-5 sig­nif­i­cantly changed the di­rec­tion of automotive history when it was in­tro­duced to a sur­prised world way back in 1989.

Un­til then, ev­ery tight­en­ing of safety reg­u­la­tions had caused car com­pa­nies to pull out of de­sign­ing open-top cars.

Mazda, ever the in­no­va­tor, dis­agreed with this and the MX-5 was the re­sult.

The styling of the fourth gen­er­a­tion Mazda MX-5 sports road­ster takes a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion to its pre­de­ces­sors.

While the sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tions (1997 and 2005) were evo­lu­tions of the orig­i­nal 1989 model, the gen-four de­sign­ers have tossed away the plans and started with blank com­puter screens.

When I first saw the new MX-5 at the Paris Mo­tor Show late last year, I had reser­va­tions about its shape.

Reser­va­tions that haven’t com­pletely gone away.

Ex­ist­ing Mazda MX-5 own­ers also seem di­vided on the new style.

Mazda MX-5 is of­fered with two dif­fer­ent en­gines.

A price-lead­ing ($31,990) 1.5-litre, four-cylin­der six-speed man­ual MX-5 is cer­tainly ap­peal­ing.

This en­gine pro­duces a mod­est 96kW of power, and 150Nm of torque.

There’s also a 2.0-litre (118kW/ 200Nm) that comes in at $34,490 with the six-speed man­ual.

Au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, again with six for­ward ra­tios, adds $2000 to the price.

On-road charges have to be fac­tored in, but be­ing able to get into the driv­ing seat of a Mazda MX-5 for un­der $35,000 is likely to have peo­ple rush­ing to show­rooms.

Mazda Aus­tralia sees its main cus­tomers com­ing from two groups; young cou­ples and empty nesters.

As well as the stan­dard MX-5 Road­ster, there’s also an up­mar­ket one, the Road­ster GT.

Avail­able with the same en­gine/ trans­mis­sion com­bi­na­tions as the lower cost model, the GT gains 16inch wheels, black door-mir­ror hous­ings, a 7-inch touch­screen with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, in­ter­net ra­dio, au­to­matic lights and wipers, cli­mate con­trol on the air-con­di­tion­ing and key­less en­try and start.

The topline MX-5 GT with the 2.0-litre en­gine and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is priced at $41,550: again, on-road charges have to be added.

Start­ing with a blank com­puter screen means the de­sign­ers have been able to trim a sig­nif­i­cant amount of weight from that of the 1110kg gen-three MX-5, bring­ing the new car down to 1009kg.

Part of the weigh re­duc­tion means the MX-5 now has a soft-top again, not a fold­ing hard­top.

Driv­ing the all-new Mazda MX-5 is a sheer de­light, even more en­joy­able than in pre­vi­ous mod­els.

The en­gine has been moved slightly back­wards and the lit­tle road­ster can be classed as mid-en- gined be­cause its com­plete pow­er­plant is within the wheel­base.

It has been low­ered to bring the cen­tre of grav­ity closer to the ground.

Also lower are the seats, which may prove a disad­van­tage to some.

Once set­tled in, the seats are great, with good sup­port for en­thu­si­as­tic cor­ner­ing; cor­ner­ing of the type that cries out to be ex­plored, guar­an­teed to bring a smile to the faces of those who love their cars.

Pic­ture: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

Styling of the fourth gen­er­a­tion Mazda MX-5 sports road­ster takes a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion to its pre­de­ces­sors.

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