Mazda MX-5 is one of only a few select markets to get the choice of the entry-level 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol fitted in the just-released model. Mazda said it launched the 1.5-litre MX-5 a few months ahead of this 2.0-litre version because it figured it was better to get some runs on the board in terms of sales.
The 2.0L versions get different wheels and tyres to the 1.5L models (17-inch rims with 205/45 tyres) and they also gain LED daytime running lights. The base model Roadster 2.0L gains a 7.0-inch MZD Connect media screen and rotary dial controller, too, which includes satellite navigation.
The engine pumps out 118kW of power and 200Nm of torque, which makes it 22kW and 50Nm gruntier than the 1.5L. It started off in that spec car at the launch, where it was clear that the 2.0L engine offered more perky response than the 1.5L auto. The engine revs willingly and smoothly, and is most impressive up high in the rev range.
The auto’s shifts are quick and clean, and in Sport mode the gearbox allows you to rev the engine harder, and it will hang on to ratios for longer. The paddleshifters on the wheel offer smart fingertip shifts, too.
But the real star of the show, as you may expect of a driver’s car like the MX-5, is the six-speed manual. The steering is precise, darty and fast to react to inputs, and there’s an excellent amount of communication to the driver’s hands. You really get a feel for what the front wheels are doing, even over bumpy surfaces.
The MX-5 feels stiff with the roof up or down, and with the cloth top dropped there’s some buffeting in the cabin, but it’s still possible to hold a conversation without too much hassle.
The biggest complaint is that it’s almost as loud with the roof up as it is with the lid down. There’s a lot of tyre roar over rough road surfaces, and there’s evident wind rustle from the roof behind the occupants’ ears, too.
Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2015