Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
The Mazda MX-5 Miata turns 25 this year! And what better way to celebrate than with a test drive through the countryside. Not only is the MX-5 one of the most affordable roadsters on the market, it is also one of the most iconic. Introduced in an era where the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F40 supercars reigned supreme with their dizzying power outputs, the MX-5 was a fresh take on a back-to-basics approach. It was a fun and simple roadster with nothing to prove. Known for its balanced handling and corner carving finesse, Mazda has sold nearly a million copies of the MX-5 since its 1989 inception. Guinness World Records even classifies it as the best selling two-seater sports car in the world. How could you seriously top a title like that?
While we have yet to get our hands on the new fourth-generation (ND) 2016 Mazda MX-5, we’re here to give a proper send off to the third-generation (NC) MX-5 with the 25th Anniversary Edition, a limited-run tribute to all the Miata fans around the globe. There are only 1099 of these special editions being made, and only 100 of those examples will be sold in Canada. Good luck getting one because they were all sold out within minutes.
The MX-5 you see here is #738. While we would much rather have #1 in our garage, all 25th Anniversary Edition models come with exclusive scuff plates, Soul Red Mica exterior paint with a Brilliant Black hardtop roof, white leather seats, nifty red stitching and chrome details around the interior, alloy pedals, unique gunmetal 17-inch wheels, and a selection of lightweight pistons, connecting rods, and flywheels for better performance. Buyers also get a custom-made Tourneau MX-5 watch to add to their collections. This special edition is a testament to making the Miata absolutely impeccable before the fourth-generation makes its way into the hands of eager customers.
The microscopic engine under the MX-5’s hood won’t stagger you with performance numbers. Instead, it’s powered by a well-balanced 2.0L inline-four that spews out 167 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. But then you look at the curbweight of the MX-5 and it all begins to make sense. It only weighs 1,182 kilograms. In the automotive world, that’s the equivalent of a feather. You can stack two of these MX-5s on top of each other and it’ll still weigh less than a 2015 Range Rover. Moreover, take a look at it’s chassis and layout – front engine, rear wheel drive setup, rack and pinion steering with a monocoque frame – it’s the recipe for legends. The result is a small, but zippy vehicle that only gives you what’s necessary for a spirited drive. There’s not too much power, but not too little – and because it’s so small, it feels quick, very quick.
The MX-5 has nearly 50/50 weight distribution, which allows for incredibly neutral steering. You can easily manipulate it with oversteer and correct it almost instantly. The steering rack is so responsive, direct, and communicative. The ride quality is firm yet supple, and the throttle response feels honed and concentrated. Fling the MX-5 around a corner, and it will dive in as gracefully as an Olympic swimmer. It truly is an object of finesse. Dare I say it, but I don’t think the MX-5 needs more power. Adding on a turbo would just ruin the linear experience. The best part is that you don’t even need to be driving quickly - the MX-5 is exhilarating at any speed.
There aren’t many options to be had with the 25th Anniversary Edition, as it’s pretty much just a fully loaded GT model. The MX-5 is available with a 6-speed manual transmission that comes with a limited slip differential and Bilstein shock absorbers for a firmer ride, but opt for the 6-speed automatic for an added $1,200 (but why would you, seriously?) and you lose those extra upgrades.
Now, if you want the full Miata driving experience, don’t even think about choosing the automatic - it comes with less horsepower. The manual needs a little bit of gas to get going, but my, do these revs build quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting that 7,200 rpm redline limiter. The exhaust just screams behind your ear, begging you to shift up a gear and do it all over again. It’s a sweet aural note – scratch that, it’s more of a soulful scream.
The lead stylist for the third-generation (NC) Miata was a man named Moray Callum. Does that last name sound familiar? It should. He is the younger brother of Ian Callum, the brilliant mind behind the Jaguar F-Type - need I say more? The MX-5’s iconic styling mixes a bit of sharpness with roundness, creating an appealing shape front and back – no pop-up headlights to be found here.
Red and black has got to be one of my favourite colour combinations on the MX-5. Combined with a white contrasting interior (someone in the colour department has been doing their homework), the 25th Anniversary Edition simply looks mouthwatering. The hardtop roof, along with the side mirrors, A-pillars, and seatback bars, are painted in black for a seamless and unified design. It only takes a few seconds for the roof to drop down behind the headrest, and the good news is that it doesn't hog up any trunk space - not like there was much to begin with. You can fit a few bags back there no problem, just don’t expect to stuff in suitcases.
We don’t exaggerate when we say that the MX-5 is small. I stand six feet tall and I have some trouble getting comfortable inside the bunker-like cabin. Legroom is sufficient but when the roof is up, my head firmly nudges against it. If it were a softop you would probably see a little bulge poking out from the fabric. Furthermore, ingress is rather difficult, especially if you’ve got arthritic knees and sciatic backs. In fact, the MX-5 sits so low to the ground that you don’t really step into the car, you fall into it.
On the bright side, it’s easy to snuggle up to the MX-5’s simplistic and well-appointed cabin. The steering wheel doesn’t telescope, it only tilts, but I love all the little details on it and how the bolts and screws aren’t covered up. There are no distractions in here – no navigation, no fancy touchscreens, no iconic Mazda pop-up head-up display, no ambient lighting. The MX-5 is keeps the driver focused on the road. And with the roof down, blind spots are noticeably absent. I love being able to turn my head around and have an unobstructed view. Instead of driving an actual vehicle, the MX-5 feels like you’re piloting one of those hamster bubble cars in Jurassic World.
A few minor gripes about the MX-5: the center console is a bit of letdown. It feels plasticky, the handbrake is too far to the right for easy reach, and storage space is heavily lacking. When the roof is up, the interior is also a bit noisy. Despite having a hardtop and a solid build, it’s not as well insulated as I’d hoped. There’s a small wind deflector next the headrest but on the highways, the wind turbulence can get pretty intense, especially above 100 km/h.
$40,000 is quite expensive for a small roadster, considering the base price for an entry-level MX-5 starts under $30,000, albeit with a soft-top roof, a 5-speed manual and no air conditioning. On the bright side, the 25th Anniversary Edition only costs $675 more than the top-trim GT, so why the hell not? I can’t even think of any legitimate competitors to put the MX-5 up against. One could spurt out rivals like the Infiniti Q60 Convertible, Mini Cooper Convertible, Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, but none of these are as nimble or as tactile as the MX-5.
That being said, the MX-5 remains one of the only small footprint and affordable roadsters on the market with such value and appeal. If I was to rate it out of 10, it’d be a solid 11. Few can match its history and open-air experience. With minor additions and upgrades from the 25th Anniversary Edition, the world’s bestselling roadster just got better. And with the new, shorter, and lighter 2016 MX-5 just around the corner, the Miata’s open-top legacy is undoubtedly poised to continue above and beyond the one-million vehicle milestone.
型号 Model: 2015 Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition
顏色 Paint Type: Soul Red Mica with Brilliant Black
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $40,925
試車售價 Price as Tested: $40,925
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,330
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,032 / 1,720 / 1,255
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,182
引擎 Engine: 2.0L inline four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 167 hp @ 7,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 140 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Double wishbone suspension with aluminum arms, mono tube dampers
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link suspension with aluminum baring support, mono tube dampers
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Power-assisted 4-wheel ventilated front discs
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Power assisted 4-wheel solid rear discs
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 9.7 / 7.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Bridgestone Potenza - 205/45R17