For the love of driv­ing

Mazda’s lat­est road­ster even closer to de­liv­er­ing an in­tu­itive ride, like a horse

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

THERE is a rea­son why the pre­vi­ous three mod­els of Mazda’s MX5 went on to be­come the world’s most pop­u­lar road­ster.

Mazda’s mar­ket­ing ma­te­rial calls it Jinba It­tai — Ja­panese for the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a good horse and its rider. We call it an in­tu­itive ride. Other mo­tor­ing hacks sim­ply say the lit­tle MX5 has soul.

What­ever this elu­sive el­e­ment is, it has helped to shift th­ese Mazda sportscars in num­bers for the past 25 years, leav­ing other, ar­guably bet­ter sportscars from Ja­pan far be­hind, stuck on the show­room floor.

Talk­ing of show­rooms, since Mazda and Ford agreed to sep­a­rate in South Africa, the MX5 is now avail­able at 45 Mazda deal­ers across the coun­try, and Mazda in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg is keen to show you how the group’s Skyactiv Tech­nol­ogy per­forms in this lit­tle road­ster.

En­thu­si­as­tic driv­ers can look for­ward to es­pe­cially tuned en­gines and trans­mis­sion adapted for the front-mid en­gine, rear­wheel drive lay­out, ideal 50:50 front-rear weight dis­tri­bu­tion with shorter over­hangs, a low yaw in­er­tia mo­ment and the low­est cen­tre of grav­ity yet as well as the re­designed chas­sis that will im­prove the MX5’s al­ready leg­endary agility.

The Skyactiv tech really de­liv­ers lin­ear pull from a stand­still to red­line along with out­stand­ing real-world fuel econ­omy in all Mazda mod­els.

The best part of the Skyactiv tech is that it uses Mazda’s version of strat­i­fied in­jec­tion with dual se­quen­tial valve tim­ing, multi-hole in­jec­tors and spe­cial pis­ton cav­i­ties to en­sure fuel and spark meet at high pres­sure (13:1) and at pre­cisely the right mo­ment to en­sure ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive com­bus­tion that re­quires no turbo to blow in ex­tra air or higher oc­tane to limit knock.

A lighter and more compact in­take and ex­haust sys­tems also squeezes the most from the en­gine by en­hanc­ing torque, and it does not sound half bad ei­ther.

Only one model goes on sale in South Africa, the 2.0 petrol en­gine that is spe­cially tuned to make 118 kW at 6 000 rpm and 200 Nm at 4 600 rpm. A sixspeed man­ual trans­mis­sion sends power to the rear.

The new en­gine is eight kilo­grams lighter than the 2.0-litre en­gine for the pre­vi­ous model, de­liv­er­ing quicker ac­cel­er­a­tion and a com­bined fuel econ­omy of 6,7 litres per 100 km.

The en­gine adopts an alu­minum head cover that harkens back to the first- and sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion mod­els.

Adopt­ing a thin­ner ma­te­rial while main­tain­ing NVH per­for­mance, the new head cover min­imises the amount of weight in­crease and present func­tional beauty in the en­gine com­part­ment.

David Hughes, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Mazda Southern Africa, said this is the most compact MX5 yet, but the in­side has not been stripped out to save weight.

There is a heads-up cock­pit con­cept with stylish ana­logue gauges and a seven-inch dis­play lo­cated on the dash for easy view­ing of in­fo­tain­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion-re­lated in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing the group’s MZD Con­nect smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem, which is op­er­ated us­ing the ro­tary com­man­der or voice com­mand.

A nine-speaker pre­mium sound sys­tem is paired with a high-ef­fi­ciency seven-chan­nel hy­brid am­pli­fier to de­liver clear sound.

A three-year un­lim­ited kilo­me­tre fac­tory war­ranty with road­side as­sis­tance and a ser­vice plan are in­cluded with the price of R389 800.

PHO­TOS: QUICK­PIC

Go­ing back to its roots, the new MX5 is the most compact Mazda road­ster yet.

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