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