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Date: 15 Jan 2018 Author Type: Public Review
Author: Julian Lurie Edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
Late last year I spent a wonderful few days with the new Mazda MX-5 six speed manual and it really took me back to the days when British Roadsters such as the MG, Triumph TR3, Sunbeam Alpines and so on were so popular. What the first generation Mazda MX-5 had achieved was to restore the culture of the lightweight sports car, and as a result the new Mazda MX-5 or Miata as it’s known in some countries, now in its fourth generation, has become the best-selling roadster in history. The new MX-5 is the most fuel-efficient to date, underpinning Mazda’s fundamental lightweight sports car principles with the addition of SKYACTIV Technology.

Externally, the new Mazda MX-5 uses the KODO design to strike a good balance between tradition and progress. It gets a more mature, more aggressive and sophisticated look thanks to more angled sheet-metal – especially in the fascia hood and rear haunches, a lower nose, a higher door sill and a beautifully crisp rear end befitting a roadster. With its sweeping, powerful lines, short overhangs and wider stance, while the more aggressive nose with features such as the ultra-compact four lamp LED headlamp units, the LED daytime running lamps highlights the MX-5’s broad stance. The MX-5 is no longer rounded and looks good from every angle. Also, new are the sporty eight-spoke 17-inch black alloy wheels, which on the press vehicle were wrapped in very low profile 205/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza Sport radials. At the rear, the combination lamps are reminiscent of previous generations, but with a new-generation signature. The cabin has been moved rearward for more balanced proportions with the top down or up

The body shell of the all-new MX-5 is approximately 20kg lighter than the previous model, all while maintaining high levels of collision safety, rigidity, and ride quietness. At 3,915mm, the overall length is the shortest of any generation and 105mm shorter than the previous model.

Inside the new MX-5, the look is a classic roadster. A prominent center console separates driver and co-driver. Big round analog gauges and a horizontal instrument panel keep the interior from feeling confining. Air vents and climate controls use the classic round look with the 7-inch touchscreen display with (MZD Connect), perched above the low-set dash. The pedals and the steering wheel are positioned directly in front of the driver, and with the low seating position of a roadster, space below the steering wheel is essential for easy entry and exit. Oddment space is very scarce. There’s no cubby-hole, no door pockets and no console box, but there is a small lidded box behind the seats to take the handbook. Boot-space however has been increased to 96 litres and is 36mm deeper than the previous model.

The canvas top in a traditional roadster style is opened and closed manually, but is very easy to operate. While belted in, the driver can simply reach back, release a latch and pull the top to the top of the windshield and with some clever mechanical assistance you can then pull it closed. One latch secures it and it takes about 45 secs to open or close.

Standard features in the Mazda MX-5 includes leather seats, leather-wrapped: steering wheel, handbrake handle and gearshift knob, keyless entry and push start, Premium Bose 203 watt amplifier with 9 speakers, Bluetooth, LED Daytime running lamps, LED Headlamps , climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, with auto dimming rear-view mirror, hill launch assist, Internet radio integration, rain-sensing wipers, emergency stop signal, and I-Stop.

Safety features include front and side airbags which provide additional protection, even with the top down, seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, ISOFIX child seat, Anti-lock braking system, dynamic stability control, emergency brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. The SKYACTIV-Body structure, modified for the MX-5’s open-top architecture, uses a continuous framework and straight beams wherever possible to disperse impact forces through a multi-load path structure and the new Mazda MX-5 earned a 4 star Euro NCap rating.

The new Mazda MX-5 is powered by a 1 998cc petrol engine developing 118 Kw of power at 6 000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque from 4 600 rpm and delivers drive to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox. In performance tests, the new 2-litre motor propelled the MX-5 from standstill to a 100 km/h with two gear changes in a brisk 7.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 215 km/h. Claimed petrol consumption is 6.7 litres per 100 km’s but over the period I had the press vehicle, the trip recorder gave me an average of 7.78 litres per 100 km’s which is still very good. The petrol tank holds 45 litres.

The new Mazda MX-5 is really fun to drive, and even more fun on twisty roads where the well- weighted electric power steering takes you exactly where you point it. Yes, there is a bit of lean at high speeds through the corners but the MX-5 never wanders off the chosen line. The ride is on the firm side, but that makes for good handling. For sporty driving on twisty roads, the crisp changing short throw gear-change is an absolute delight to use. At a steady 120 km/h on the open road, the motor spins at a low-ish 3 000 rpm in 6th gear. Cruising on the freeways, the MX-5 is nice and comfortable, with a very good driving position, and at high speed with the roof down, there was just enough wind to gently ruffle the hair. With the roof in place, there is quite a bit of road and wind noise in the cab, but then that’s all part of a convertible package. All round vision with the top down is excellent but rather limited with the roof in place as there are blind spots when reversing out of an angle parking, but one tends to adjust to that. The brakes too were very strong. With disc brakes at all four wheels stomping hard on the brake pedal at 100 km/h brought the MX-5 to a full stop in just 2.83 seconds.

The recommended retail selling price for the new Mazda MX-5 is R512 800 which includes a 3-year unlimited kilometer factory warranty, 3-year roadside assistance, a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.
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