Back to ba­sics

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORS -

IS THERE an­other car sold to­day that ri­vals the Mazda MX-5’s legacy? The Porsche 911 is an icon and the Toy­ota GT86 might well be­come one. The Volk­swa­gen Golf is a name most can iden­tify with, but the MX-5 is spe­cial.

It has rewrit­ten the record books again and again for sports car sales and its recipe of light weight, driver fo­cus and sim­ple front en­gine and rear drive lay­out just has an in­her­ent right­ness about it that hasn’t dated.

With this MK4 model though, Mazda has drawn a line in the sand and gone back to what made the MX-5 so great in the first place. The fourth gen­er­a­tion car has gone back to ba­sics and is all the bet­ter for it.

This re­jec­tion of a ‘more is bet­ter’ phi­los­o­phy is a bit of a run­ning theme through­out this ‘ND’ MX5. The car’s of­fered with ei­ther a 1.5-litre 131PS en­gine or a 2.0-litre 160PS unit. Mazda’s chas­sis en­gi­neers will steer you to the 1.5-litre pow­er­plant as they feel it’s the purest spec­i­fi­ca­tion for the MX-5 and also the light­est, tip­ping the scales at around the tonne. That makes this the light­est MX-5 since the orig­i­nal first gen­er­a­tion ‘NA’ car of the Nineties. This fourth gen­er­a­tion de­sign con­forms to five key cri­te­ria that Mazda claim de­fine the MX-5 - rear drive with a front­mid en­gine lay­out, 50/50 weight dis­tri­bu­tion and an ea­ger­ness to change di­rec­tion, plus a low kerb weight and an af­ford­able price. All mod­els get sixspeed man­ual gear­boxes.

The MX-5 isn’t about straight line pace, it’s about agility and tac­til­ity. Be­cause the en­gines are smaller than their pre­de­ces­sors, this al­lows them to be tucked down and back in the car.

The shape of the MX-5 hasn’t changed rad­i­cally from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. This one’s no ex­cep­tion, but there’s a bit more ag­gres­sion about the de­tail­ing, the car look­ing like a shrunken Jaguar F-Type road­ster from the rear three-quar­ter. Some have thought there’s some­thing a bit fishy­look­ing about the front end but it’ll prob­a­bly grow on you. See one in the metal and you’ll be amazed at how tiny it is.

In an­other clever touch, the seat cush­ions are sup­ported on net­ting in­stead of the usual metal springs, al­low­ing Mazda to re­duce weight and seat the driver’s hip point closer to the road.

A lower driver then means the wind­screen header rail can shift back­wards, in this case by 70mm, which in turn means the hood is shorter and lighter, and also eas­ier to pack­age when folded. See what we mean about that vir­tu­ous cir­cle?

Given that there’s only one bodystyle, one en­gine and two gear­boxes, there are quite a few MX-5s to choose be­tween. Mazda of­fers the car in four trim lev­els, SE, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport, with all three be­ing of­fered with the 1.5-litre en­gine and the lat­ter pair teamed with the 2.0-litre lump. Stick with light weight and mod­est power out­puts and this dic­tates a raft of af­ford­able costs.

The MX-5 has long been the ex­em­plar of the af­ford­able sports car and emis­sions are agree­ably low, the 1.5-litre en­gine pegged at 139g/km and the 2.0-litre 161g/km.

Weight is the enemy.

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