Motoring: The new 2016 Mazda MX-5
Credit: NAUMAN FAROOQ
A red 2015 Mazda MX-5 has 155hp and is the newest release from the Mazda dealership.
If you’re a car enthusiast, you’re already well versed with the story of the Mazda MX-5, a car that is still affectionately called the Miata.
It first came onto the scene in 1990 and offered the joys of being a classic car with the added feature of reliability. It also looked cute and on a twisty road, it was fun to drive. It wasn’t a fast car, but Mazda proved that a car could be fun to drive, without it being fast.
In 1998, the second-generation model of the MX-5 came onto the scene. The styling was a bit more grown up and the power output was also slightly higher, yet still, it was more about handling than speed.
To address the speed enthusiasts, Mazda offered a Mazdaspeed MX-5 in 2004 and 2005.
This model had a turbocharged four-cylinder motor that was good for about 180 horsepower (hp); this is still not that powerful, but better than the approximate 140 hp of the regular Mazda.
Though, the Mazdaspeed MX-5’s close ratio six-speed gearbox wasn’t ideal for this motor; therefore, it wasn’t exactly as fast as you’d hope.
In 2006, Mazda launched the third-generation model of the MX- 5. It was bigger, had more creature comforts and power again increased slightly with its 170 hp.
This is so far my favourite Mazda model and my appreciation for it kept growing with every drive.
I have driven it in the summer, winter, on highways and back roads and found it to be a joy on all roads. In my view, it was almost perfect, though, I always crave for more power.
The question I had lingering in my head was could Mazda improve on the MX-5?
In Mazda’s view improving the MX-5 meant going back to its roots.
While most new cars are bigger than the ones they replace, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 is smaller than its predecessor. It is also lighter, at 1,058 kg. The 2016 MX-5 is about 100 kg lighter than the model it replaces.
Not only did size and weight decrease with the 2016 Mazda, power did as well. While its engine capacity remains at 2.0L, max horsepower decreased 15 hp, for a total of 155 hp.
The power-to-weight ratio between the third-generation and the fourth-generation should be fairly similar; therefore, performance should be at least on par.
The lower weight does offer two clear advantages.
First, the new car sips less fuel, as I was able to average an incredible 7.1L/100km in my testing week.
The second is that the handling is even better, because there is less mass to move about.
In my opinion, the 2016 model is not better than its predecessors.
I think Mazda tried to make the new car more cost effective for themselves and therefore they skimmed on a few items. The new car does not have a mobile wind deflector; it’s fixed.
There is no glove box, so your owner’s manual and other car papers sit in a box between the two seats.
I also think Mazda saved on the seats, they aren’t comfortable in the new model. I thought maybe I’ve gotten fatter, but then I went to a showroom to sit in the older NC MX-5 and found comfort right away.
I didn’t enjoy wringing out the engine either. On paper, its SKYACTIV motor is technically brilliant, but in the real world, it felt stressed and unwilling.
The worst thing in my opinion is the Mazda doesn’t seem to want to take the MX-5 to new heights. We have seen for the last 25 years, that Mazda can make a sports car that is fun to drive, despite not being very fast, but I’d like to see Mazda build a car that is fast to fulfill the potential of its excellent chassis.
In all honesty, I wanted to like the new MX-5 because I want this car to do well. Mazda should be applauded for continuing to make a two-seat roadster, while its competition has withered away. They should also be applauded for improving the cars’ economy and also for packing in more technology than before, but it has also lost out in a few areas.
Some complaints are minor, such as the ill placement of the cup holders, which are located behind your elbow.
Though some are more serious, such as its electric power steering system lacking in feel, which makes the car trickier to place on a twisting road when going quickly.
If you like the new MX-5, there are still a lot of reasons for doing so, you can buy one right now with prices starting at $31,900.