If Mazda ever pulled the plug on the MX-5 there'd be a riot. Born over 20 years ago, the two-seat sports car is a fully fledged motoring icon that has almost universal appeal the go-to car for blokes in mid-life crisis. Mazda continues to refine the compact, front-engined, rear-drive concept, with a new look and subtle changes to the way the car drives but the fact remains the MX-5 is not exactly cheap motoring anymore.
What's more, it is going to come under intense pressure from the likes of Toyota's new 86. Although the 86 is not available without a lid yet, the two cars share the same appeal but importantly the Toyota/Subaru is significantly cheaper.
VALUE AND RANGE
MX- comes two grades, Roadster Coupe and the Roadster Coupe Sports. It's available with a six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission, with prices starting at $47,280.
The new MX-5 represents the second time the third generation model has been facelifed. A newly designed front bumper is designed to give the MX-5 a more aggressive look, with a larger, 47mm deeper front grille that offers a greater sense of depth. The corners of the front bumper flare out further, reducing the amount of air that strikes the front tires.
Shaping of the outer edges along the front and the angles of the sides of the front fog lamp bezels has also reduced air resistance. The front license plate bracket is positioned entirely within the area of the front grille, creating a cleaner, more streamlined expression. Inside the trim has been changed from matte dark silver to a glossy dark grey to impart a depth of colour with shine, to create an ambience of higher quality and sportiness.
Powered by the same 2.0-litre four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that delivers 118kW of power at 7000 revs and 188Nm of torque at 5000 revs. Maximum power is available slightly lower in the rev range with the auto. The manual features a limited slip rear differential. Both models deliver claimed fuel economy of 8.1 litres/100km from the 50-litre tank using Premium 95 unleaded or better.
Bose and Mazda worked together to develop a refined premium audio system exclusively for the MX-5. It uses seven speakers, digital sound processing and six equaliser channels. Almost every speaker is now addressed by an individual equaliser channel which allows very precise sound tuning.
Mazda has sought to make the car more enjoyable to drive, with revised accelerator and brake characteristics. Improved brake and accelerator control characteristics deliver smooth transition from deceleration to acceleration, and a linear feel to the acceleration.
Adjustment to the throttle management program in manual models makes the MX-5 more responsive when accelerating out of corners, while updates to the brake booster make it easier to control the front and rear load distribution improving braking ability all round.
It's going to be interesting to see what effect the arrival of the Toyota 86 has on MX-5 prices. If sales drop expect to see a drop in prices too.
The complete Mazda MX-5 range is:
Roadster Coupe: $47,280 (manual), $49,405 (automatic)
Roadster Coupe Sports: $49,885 (manual), $52,010 (automatic)
Price: from $47,280
Warranty: three years/100,000km
Safety: four airbags (no ANCAP score for the current model)
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, 118kW/188Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or auto
Body: 4020mm (L); 1720mm (w); 1255mm (h)
Weight: 1167 to 1179kg