Mazda MX-5

WE SAY: WORLD’S BEST­SELLING SPORTS CAR GETS MORE GRUNT

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - STEPHEN DO­BIE

It might not look it, but the MX-5’s lat­est up­date is a big­gie. For the first time in ages – hur­rah! – there’s ac­tu­ally more power. Mazda has for­aged an­other 24bhp from the MX-5’s top-spec 2.0-litre engine, not via lazily bolt­ing on a turbo, but by shav­ing some weight from the pis­tons. Among other, even nerdier tweaks.

So, to­tal out­put is now 182bhp, which, when you’ve got lit­tle more than a tonne to move, is punchier than it sounds. Nearly a sec­ond has been wiped from the claimed 0–62mph time, in fact. But more tan­gi­ble than a hike in power is the rise in revs – the red line has climbed 700rpm, to 7,500rpm, in­ject­ing a whole heap of char­ac­ter into the 2.0. It’s an ab­so­lute joy to rev to its max, a process made all the sweeter by its ut­terly mar­vel­lous six-speed man­ual gear­box.

This car’s a joy to drive, put sim­ply, and a great ad­vert for stick­ing with a good ol’ man­ual, rear-wheel drive and no tur­bocharg­ing. Some­thing which MX-5s have al­ways boasted, but de­tail im­prove­ments have taken it closer than ever to bril­liance. While the core in­gre­di­ents scream ‘driver’s car’, the lack of steer­ing wheel reach ad­just­ment al­ways sug­gested oth­er­wise. So Mazda’s fixed it. There’s also less roll in the chas­sis than early ver­sions of the MkIV MX-5, so while it’s still lovely and friendly for rear-drive new­com­ers to get a grasp of, those with more ex­pe­ri­ence will be bet­ter sat­is­fied by its flat­ter ap­proach to cor­ners.

It re­mains a hap­pier car driven just be­low its lim­its, though. It’s not as hard­core or fo­cused as some­thing like a Toy­ota GT86, and you’ll en­joy it more when you’re smoothly flow­ing between cor­ners, main­tain­ing your mo­men­tum on a great piece of road rather than try­ing to paint black lines on it.

There’s more tech in­side – with proper smart­phone link-ups on of­fer – while you’ve still got a choice of soft- or hard-top roofs. Pick the for­mer to save weight, money and time; fling­ing it open in sec­onds is far more ap­peal­ing than whirring on a but­ton for a rel­a­tive eter­nity. Be­cause when Mazda’s fi­nally made it quicker and more pow­er­ful, why de­lay things with the slower, more com­plex roof?

Mazda MX-5 2.0 184PS £22,295

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