Mazda MX-5 is a whole lot of fun

Pilbara News - - Motoring - Ewan Kennedy

For the first time in Aus­tralia, the bril­liant lit­tle Mazda MX-5 is of­fered with two dif­fer­ent en­gines.

A few weeks back, we tested an MX-5 with the 1.5-litre four-cylin­der en­gine that pro­duces a rel­a­tively mod­est 96kW and 150Nm.

Now we have just spent a very en­joy­able week in the 2.0-litre MX-5.

It has a pretty re­spectable 118kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

Our test car was a Roadster GT 2.0 with a six-speed man­ual gear­box.

The two-litre has a start­ing price of $34,490 and comes with 17-inch al­loys, Mazda’s MZD Con­nect sys­tem and LED day­light run­ning lamps as stan­dard.

While the se­cond and third gen­er­a­tions (1997 and 2005) were evo­lu­tions of the orig­i­nal 1989 NA se­ries, the gen-four de­sign­ers have given us a mod­ern shape based on the Kodo de­sign seen in the rest of the Mazda range.

To our eyes, the rear is rather generic, fol­low­ing the cur­rent global theme of round units ta­per­ing out­wards into slim hor­i­zon­tal ar­eas.

The MX-5 comes as a Roadster and an up­mar­ket Roadster GT.

The GT stands out visu­ally in that the body colour con­tin­ues over onto the tops of the doors into the cabin.

It has black door-mir­ror hous­ings.

Au­to­matic lights and wipers, cli­mate con­trol on the air-con­di­tion­ing, and key­less en­try and start are stan­dard.

The two-litre four-cylin­der en- gine used in the MX-5 we re­viewed has 118kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

Six-speed man­ual and six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions are of­fered.

Pad­dles be­hind the wheel of the auto do pro­vide sort-of man­ual driv­ing, but it’s not the same thing.

The MX-5 re­ceived five stars for pas­sive safety, but only a four-star rat­ing in safety as­sist.

A spokesper­son for Mazda Aus­tralia points out “there has never been a sports car that has re­ceived a five star rat­ing in the past”.

Again, in the in­ter­ests of chas­sis bal­ance, the seats are lower than be­fore.

Get­ting in and out will be a chal- lenge if your body has a few ex­tra years on the clock, or your belly has gained some ex­tra inches.

Once set­tled into the low seats, you will find they pro­vide good sup­port with­out be­ing overly ag­gres­sive in their side bol­sters.

Hav­ing 33 per cent more dis­place­ment than the 1.5 en­gine in­stantly en­deared the MX-5 2.0 to us.

And “in­stantly” is the right word to de­scribe this sports pow­er­plant, be­cause the mo­ment you hit the pedal on the right, you get in­stant ac­tion.

Sure, tur­bocharged hot hatches pro­duce even more oomph than a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated unit like the Mazda, but not un­til the ir­ri­tat­ing lag has fi­nally let you get the power you de­manded seem­ingly an age back.

Even bet­ter, the lit­tle Mazda roadster sounds great as there’s no turbo to muf­fle the ex­haust note.

A lit­tle more vol­ume would be ap­pre­ci­ated, but there are tough reg­u­la­tions about this sort of thing.

Op­er­a­tion of the soft-top roof is sim­ple.

Undo a sin­gle catch in the cen­tre of the wind­screen header, fold the roof back and it clips down into the open po­si­tion.

The MX-5 is front-mid en­gined, mean­ing the com­plete drivetrain is within the wheel­base for ex­cep­tional chas­sis bal­ance. The en- gine in the new ND se­ries is even fur­ther back than in the NC Se­ries it su­per­seded a few months ago.

Boot space is surpis­ingly good for such a small car, par­tic­u­larly in its depth.

We had no trou­ble fit­ting a week’s worth of shop­ping for a cou­ple in there.

Mazda MX-5 is the big­gest sell­ing roadster of all time.

We have had the plea­sure of road test­ing ev­ery model since day one, some­times over many thou­sands of kilo­me­tres on hol­i­day trips.

If you want to put a lot of fun into your driv­ing life, pop down to your Mazda dealer soon.

Pic­tures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

The Mazda MX-5 roadster has a neat new look.

Op­er­a­tion of the soft-top roof is sim­ple.

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