Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster Review and Road Test

by under Review on 15 Jan 2015 04:07:34 PM15 Jan 2015
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2015 MAZDA MX-5
Price
$47,280
Safety Rating
Green Rating
Fuel Consumption
8.1L/100km
4.5RATING
PROS

Sublime package; ridiculously good to drive; looks the part

CONS

Zero – this is a reasonably priced sports coupe as good as they come

We know that the all-new MX-5 will be officially launched later this month, so we thought we would spend a little time driving the third generation Mazda MX-5 before it disappears. It didn’t disappoint  us at all, it will be a tough act to follow .

Just like the previous MX-5s – and the car which inspired them, the Lotus Elan from the 1960s – this is a genuine two-seat sports coupe which delights with the purity of its driving experience. And rewards by being very reasonably priced.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

So you can shove your Gen Y paraphernalia – mood boards, think tanks, consumer clinics, research groups and the rest – because the idea with the MX-5 remains so incredibly simple.

You take a nice-looking compact two-seat coupe, keep it light, fit an appropriate engine, manual transmission and drive the rear wheels. Balance is the key so a hulking great V8 will upset the applecart just as much as puny hybrid.

Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Overview

Mazda offers the MX-5 in two models and Car Showroom tested the ‘entry-level’ ‘Roadster Coupe’ which is priced at $47,280. For a bit more ($49,885) you can snare the ‘Roadster Coup Sports’ which adds juicy extras like BBS alloy wheels and a leather/alcantara interior with Recaro sports seats.

Both share the same driveline.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

And while we drove the ‘entry-level’ model don’t for a second think it pulls-up short in the specifications – inside there’s nice leather-trimmed sports seats, aluminium sports pedals, cruise control and a seven-speaker Bose audio system.

Of course previous MX-5s came with a folding soft-top roof but the current generation is exclusively a power-operated hardtop with the ‘luxury’ of a glass rear window complete with demister.

We still love the Mazda MX-5 - this is absolutely the reasonably priced sports coupe by which others are still judged – and it was nice to have a ‘farewell tour’ for a week in one of our favourite cars.

Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Engine

Yes here it is, Mazda’s punchy naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine which hasn’t been ‘SkyActiv-ised’ (although we’d lay some cash on the all-new model featuring Mazda’s ground-breaking new technology). For now this remains one of the sweetest engines Mazda has produced and ideal for the MX-5.

There’s 118kW of power at 7000rpm and peak torque of 188Nm at 5000rpm. But those figures just provide a preview of the real story – combined with its diminutive size, light 1,167kgs weight and a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels - Mazda’s 2.0-litre works all the way to the redline and delivers a racy exhaust note as it gets about its best work north of 4000rpm.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

Take away just one of those elements and the Mazda MX-5 story just doesn’t have the happy ending it currently does.

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster The Interior

When you haven’t driven a Mazda MX-5 for a while, the first impression reminds how small this true two-seat sports car is. You definitely climb down to enter via small doors and once seated you have an immediate sense of being close to the road.

A few simple adjustments and you have an ideal driving position with the leather-wrapped steering wheel in just the right place, your legs relatively straight to the pedals and a perfect view of the sports car instruments in a curved binnacle.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

For the current generation MX-5, interior highlights take-on a gloss dark grey colour which enhances the sporty feel and also looks a bit richer than the previous silver colour.

Audio is a seven-speaker Bose system with the usual connectivity.

As with all two-seat sports cars, luggage space isn’t massive but at 150-litres there’s enough for overnight bags for two and – as we proved – a family-sized haul of groceries.

 

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster Exterior & Styling

Mazda’s stylists pursued a sportier, more aggressive look for the third generation MX-5. It’s also a smidge larger than the previous model with, for example, 47mm added at the front to incorporate the new grille.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

Aerodynamics also got a ‘once-over’ and MX-5 ‘tragics’ point to the flared front bumper (to direct air away from the front wheels) and shaped edges around the fog-lights.

Parked alongside earlier generations, the latest Mazda MX-5 also sees a musclier look around the wheel arches and rear three-quarters.

 

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster On the Road

Our schedule was chockers the week we had the Mazda MX-5 so we had time for just one run over our high-speed mountain roads test loop. Bugger!

Because this is a car which was made for roads like that.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

Thing is the Mazda MX-5 is so balanced and pointy, it’s almost impossible to be imprecise when you go hunting for corner apexes. Ratios in the six-speeder seem to be perfect for the ‘atmo’ 2.0-litre engine and you have plenty of urge when you’re back on the power accelerating out of corners.

Mazda also has the double wishbone front/multi-link rear nicely calibrated and there’s little ‘dive’ under braking or roll when cornering. In fact, in motor sport terms, the Mazda MX-5 takes a ‘set’ very early in a corner which inspires confidence to apply plenty of throttle from very early.

Around town the diminutive MX-5 is very easy to  live with –the six-speed manual is light in the peak-hour crawl and the tiny 9.4-metre turning circle makes parking a breeze (although the low coupe hardtop does provide some restrictions in the over-the-shoulder look when reverse parking). 

 

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster Issues

We’re not deducting points from the Mazda MX-5 for anything but it is now getting a outgunned by the BRZ and 86. However this is a pure two-seat convertible sports coupe which can go toe-to-toe with later rivals in any department at a decent price.

 

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster Verdict

Well Mazda has laid-down some high-standard marks for the all-new MX-5 to aspire to. This generation of the Hiroshima-based company’s iconic two-seat sports coupe will be remembered because it was a tad more ‘grown-up’ than those before but was, in our opinion, even better to drive.

2015 MAZDA MX-5 2D CONVERTIBLE COUPE

For us, Mazda has nailed the suspension calibration for easier everyday living and the looks of the Roadster Coupe are the best MX-5 so far. Doing all of that while being true to the original purity of the MX-5 was the hard part and Mazda has pulled it off.

What will be the pricing of the all-new Mazda MX-5? We have no idea.

What we do know is when you factor in value-for-money, dynamics and the fun-to-drive factor, there’s no doubt the current Mazda MX-5 meets the benchmarks of its predecessors…and there’s no greater compliment than that.

 

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Roadster The Competition

Every time we see a Subaru BRZ or Toyota 86 we doff our caps in admiration. Both give you change from $40,000, very pointy rear-drive chassis and a bit more grunt than the MX-5. We suspect the MX-5 might have a bit more grip and higher limits in the twisty stuff.

Mini Coupe ranges in price from $34,900 to $52,600 (the latter giving you 155kW/260Nm of turbocharged 1.6-litre grunt). Styling is open to debate (we love it) but good as the Mini is, ultimately it’s front-drive layout limits the fun compared to the rear-drive MX-5, BRZ and 86.  

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