Also known as the Miata in North America, the Mazda MX-5 is a two-seater roadster utilizing a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. It first made its appearance at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989 and has been in production ever since. Conceived to be a small roadster, it took inspiration from the small 1960s Italian and British roadsters, such as the MG MGB, Alfa Romeo Spider, Fiat 124 Sport Spider, Lotus Elan, and Triumph Spitfire, light in weight with minimal mechanical complexities but technologically modern. The second-generation MX-5 was released in 1998 and the next one followed suit in 2005. As of February 4, 2011, Mazda has produced a total of 900,000 MX-5s. In 2012, Mazda announced the production of a fourth-generation MX-5.
The Mazda MX-5 in production today is bigger than the models before it, measuring 20mm longer, 20mm taller, and 40mm wider. But despite the larger size, it is just 10kg heavier than its older brother with a weight of 1,095kg. This very minimal gain in weight is due to what Mazda refers to as the gram strategy. With it, engineers were given the task of cooking up various means of saving weight throughout the MX-5. This led to a lot of detailed tweaks that though simple was able to achieve the weight-saving goal everyone in mind, like the simplified rear-view mirror that allowed Mazda to cut back on 84g of weight and the use of aluminum on the suspension control arms and the engine’s sub-frame.
The cabin is also a step forward from what the MX-5 previously had. And it’s not just about the design and the overall feel of it. Since the new MX-5 is roomier, the added space has also contributed towards improving interiors. If you’re concerned about boot space, it’s remained at 150 litres though, the same for both hard roof and soft-top. The roadster is hardly a machine for moving a lot of things so a boot space of that level should just be enough.
The MX-5 takes some getting used so you’ll have to stay committed with using it every day despite never really settling down on typical British roads. However, ride and handling has improved so much (not that it was bad before) thanks to a rear-wheel-drive system that’s excellently balanced. And once you’ve gotten a hang of the MX-5’s quirks, you can drive it up and down any road beyond its grip limits, much more easily that what you’d have to go through with other sports cars.
In terms of price, the MX-5 is priced just right for what it offers. You will spend more, of course, as you go up trim levels, but you can expect to get your money’s worth with the added features. The MX-5 also has decent fuel economy, with the 1.8-litre unit coughing up 39.8mpg.
But despite the added bulk and noticeable level of spaciousness in the MX-5, foot wells are lacking in width and length. This fault in the foot wells though is probably due to the fact that seats sit passengers lower in the car than they used to. Taller, leggier passengers will definitely be the first to realize this downside.
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