Lim­ited edi­tion brings equip­ment and ex­clu­siv­ity

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - RYAN LEWIS

There can only be one. Hun­dred. And ten. 110.

TWELVE months after it launched, the MX-5 Re­tractable Fast­back (RF), with its fold­ing metal lid, is now the best-sell­ing ver­sion in Mazda’s ND MX-5 range. That’s a bit of a shock. Within those sales it’s the flag­ship GT ver­sion that takes the lion’s share. Clearly Mazda is right when it says to­day’s cus­tomers want all the bells and whis­tles to go with their pure sports car ex­pe­ri­ence.

Now there’s a more em­bel­lished RF to take their fancy. A run of 110 RF GT Lim­ited Edi­tion (LE) mod­els sits atop the line-up, priced at a lofty $55,790 drive­away.

That’s a circa $8K im­post. Then again, the LE is the first up­grade this gen­er­a­tion of MX-5 has had from a per­for­mance stand­point. Up­grades in­clude light­weight 17-inch BBS al­loy wheels, a Brembo brak­ing pack­age, Bil­stein dampers and re­vised springs, a more aero­dy­namic body kit, a strut brace and Re­caro seats.

En­gine out­puts re­main at 118kw/200nm from a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der ex­clu­sively, and all 110 units get a six-speed man­ual.

The good news, de­pend­ing on how you view it, is that the en­hance­ments haven’t made a night-and-day trans­for­ma­tion to an al­ready sat­is­fy­ing (and Co­ty­win­ning) driver’s car. So why pay for them? If ex­clu­siv­ity or track days fac­tor in your buy­ing de­ci­sion then there’s a case to be made.

Tweak­ing the dampers has erad­i­cated some of the soft-top Road­ster’s pitch and roll. Faster re­bound and a shorter over­all stroke mean body con­trol is tauter, and the ride oc­ca­sion­ally fid­gety, but the more fo­cused LE re­tains the MX-5’S steer­ing pre­ci­sion and will be bet­ter suited to set­ting the odd lap time than the nor­mal car, with­out com­pletely eras­ing that play­ful MX-5 char­ac­ter.

Those Brem­bos, too, are set up with club-level track per­for­mance in mind. Mazda prom­ises more con­trol un­der heavy brake ap­pli­ca­tions and bet­ter cool­ing to markedly im­prove fade re­sis­tance. The pack­age is 2kg lighter than the fac­tory stop­pers, fur­ther re­duc­ing un­sprung mass with the BBS wheels. That weight dif­fer­ence is hard to dis­cern on-road. These are mods for those test­ing the lim­its.

In­side, the ex­cel­lent leather and Al­can­tara-trimmed Re­caro seats hug firmly and fea­ture slim­mer seat base cush­ion­ing that frees a small amount of head­room in the in­ti­mate cabin. Bug­bears carry over from the reg­u­lar RF, like wind noise and the lack of a stan­dard re­vers­ing cam­era, but they’re mi­nor com­plaints in con­text.

For many, the pricey LE will be dif­fi­cult to jus­tify over a nor­mal RF GT, but Mazda will have no prob­lem find­ing 110 homes within the iconic MX-5S healthy fol­low­ing. It’s smartly sharp­ened and more de­sir­able, and de­serves to be driven for driv­ing’s sake.

Model Lexus RX350L En­gine 3456cc V6, dohc, 24v Max power 216kw @ 6300rpm Max torque 358Nm @ 4600-4700rpm Trans­mis­sion 8-speed au­to­matic Weight 2090kg 0-100km/h 8.0sec (claimed) Econ­omy 10.6L/100km Price $84,700 On sale Now

Model Mazda MX-5 RF GT Lim­ited Edi­tion En­gine 1998cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v Max power 118kw @ 6000rpm Max torque 200Nm @ 4600rpm Trans­mis­sion 6-speed man­ual Weight 1080kg 0-100km/h 7.3sec Econ­omy 7.0L/100km Price $55,790 drive­away On sale Now

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