Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Mazda MX-5 the ultimate roadster

Published:Sunday | December 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMKareem Latouche
The new Mazda MX-5.
The new Mazda MX-5.
Inside the new Mazda MX-5.
Inside the new Mazda MX-5.
An older model of the Mazda MX-5
1989 Mazda MX-5.
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From its inception in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 has been a hit with auto enthusiasts as it reminds many persons of sports cars made in the 1950s and '60s, like the Lotus Elan. The rear-wheel-drive vehicle was small and fun as it stuck to its design credo, Jinba ittai, meaning oneness of horse and rider.

Fast-forward four generations, and the Miata, as it is also called, is still exciting to drive and is the bestselling two-seat convertible sports car.

The machine-grey metallic sheet metal on the exterior is not as mundane as previous generations, with its protruding wheel arches and character lines that give it a bold stance. The 205mm wide tyres and spoke rims add to the overall aggressive and muscular look. There are also more design cues throughout the vehicle to create a visual connection with the other models in the Mazda stable.

Not everything is modernised, though; it still has some elements from the past for the nostalgic lovers. For example, the squinting headlights remind me of those on the first-generation model.

 

An interior to look forward to

 

Mazda makes no qualms about their interiors being heavily influenced by their German counterparts, and the MX-5 is in keeping with this mantra. Accented with auburn Nappa leather, chrome panels, and black leather, the interior is boldly refined.

Keep in mind that it is a roadster, which means that it is built to only seat two people. This means there is little room for groceries or excess luggage. However, there is a small storage compartment between the two seats that can fit a travel pouch, and, fortunately, it can be locked with a key. There are also two hidden compartments behind the seats.

This is the concept that made vehicles like these fun for British and Italian drivers, who were primarily focused on being one with the road.

On the dashboard is the customary seven-inch Mazda Connect infotainment system, which can be controlled by a rotary knob in the centre console, much like BMW's IDrive. It is complemented by a nine-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system, which produces powerful and clear sounds. The interface is simple and easy to understand, especially for persons familiar with using a cell phone. On the topic of cell phones, once one is connected to the car, there are two additional speakers are located in the headrest of the driver's seat - something that becomes very effective when the top is removed.

This being a hard top, which is the type of convertible I prefer, for safety reasons, means that when the top is removed, it goes into the back. This also means that the trunk space is a bit smaller than expected, but let me reiterate, it's a roadster.

The cool thing is that it retracts automatically in seconds by pressing and holding a rocker switch located between the climate-control knobs.

 

Driving for fun

 

The 181hp does give this car a punch, but the real fun is the engaging driving experience. First, the car is very low to the ground, but once seated on the comfortable nappa-leather seats, I felt like I was one with the machine. The transmission tunnel runs straight through the interior, which allowed me to hear the internals, as well as the muffler.

There is no reverse camera. However, there are sensors, but truth be told, the back is so short, you can simply look behind you to see any object.

Mazda gives the option for two driving modes, regular and sport, both of which I found to be exciting. Its default tuning is that of a sports car, so I kept it in normal mode for the duration of the test drive. Around town, it performs very nippy, with impressive acceleration to dip in and out of traffic.

What was also noteworthy was the suspension, which was much more comforting than I expected. Outside of hitting major potholes, it managed bumps smoothly, especially when compared to other sports cars.

The MX-5, being a naturally aspirated engine, which is best enjoyed when driving around corners or testing on a circuit.

There is no denying the fun factor associated with a vehicle like this, plus where ever it is driven, it will definitely turn heads.

 

Specifications

 

Type: Rear-wheel drive (RWD)

Drive train: 6-speed automatic transmission

Engine: SKYACTIV 2.0 litre

Curb weight: 2513.3 lbs

Fuel capacity: 45 litres

17 aluminium alloy wheels with dark gunmetal finish and P205/45 R17 tires

Lane Departure Warning

Price: High spec, $7.9 million

Competition: Nissan370Z Roadster, BMW Z4, Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S, Mini Roadster, Audi TT Roadster

Vehicle provided courtesy of Executive Motors Ltd. Telephone 929-5274, mail@execmotorsja.com

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