Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: September 6, 2016
Back in 1990, Mazda decided it was time to bring about a change in the way they captured consumer attention. By taking the idea behind charming British roadsters and pairing it with Japanese reliability and style, Mazda was able to create something special. Staying true to its form of being fun and affordable, the newly hatched MX-5 Miata thrilled and inspired thousands of enthusiasts around the globe.
After four generations of the Miata, Mazda was proud to recently announce the one-millionth Miata rolling off their production line. What a milestone! And those million MX-5 owners are probably the most satisfied bunch you’d ever meet. After all, “the answer is always Miata.”
With its agile and predictable handling, a peppy four-pot engine, an easy folding manual top, and a precise manual shifter (or a sporty automatic), the Miata is the roadster that all other roadsters aspire to. The cheeky roadster is the epitome of the phrase, “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow.”
For more than a quarter century, the MX-5’s dazzling combination of nimble fun, thriftiness, and predictability has made it a favourite of ours. While we will all agree the Miata is the quintessential track and autocross car, there are some quirks to it when you try and apply it to daily life.
The ND (fourth-generation) MX-5 is practically impractical. It seats two tightly, it will barely haul a load from IKEA, it’s loud from the outside and inside, and if you’re too tall, your head will feel like it’s been through a hurricane after a short run on the highway. Yet despite these drawbacks, we’re completely in love with this courageous ragtop.
It is really hard to think of a performance car that is better in the fun-per-dollar category. Each morning you can hop in, drop the top and hit the road feeling revived. This MX-5 is truly one of the last intimate driving experiences; you feel like you’re part of the machine that’s melding with the road.
Horacio Pagani once said, “It’s a truly special thing, to be able to take the steering wheel and communicate with the road and feel a whole range of emotions that somehow satisfy all senses within your body.”
The MX-5’s steering does just that through its immediate turn-in response. The car thankfully, remains playful and predictable even when you press the limits of the tires. You’re never afraid of it coming around to bite you like some other roadsters on the market with higher horsepower numbers.
You will never have to worry about the 155-hp 2.0-litre SkyActiv four cylinder not providing enough juice. Even though the horsepower number is down from the last generation model, this fourth-gen model is a lot lighter. Weighing just a tad over 1,000 kilos, the MX-5 has a fantastic power-to-weight ratio that will keep you engaged and smiling.
Unlike some turbocharged four-cylinders, power delivery in the MX-5 is gaspy at low-engine RPMs, but it builds up triumphantly as you reach the redline. The deep exhaust sound is apparent at all times thanks to the short wheelbase and just how close you are to the engine and the exhaust tips.
Now to address the elephant in the room: this tester came with an automatic transmission. At first glance, it was pure sacrilege to have a car with this kind of ethos paired with a torque converter. But I have good news, very good news. Although I have driven a stick shift MX-5 before, I thought this slushbox was an absolute joy. The automatic transmission does not let the platform down, nor does it hinder the driving experience, not one bit. Just as our Lady of Blessed Acceleration intended, in sport mode, the transmission shifts quickly and crisply, and the unit never feels like it’s in the wrong gear.
Being a no-cost option, the automatic transmission is a viable option for consumers looking to have the convenience factor for their little roadster. A bonus I found is that the automatic is fractionally better in the fuel economy department when on the highway, rated at 6.5 L/100km over the manual’s 6.9 L/100km, all with premium fuel. But should you base your buying decision just off the fuel economy numbers? Of course not! But it is noteworthy.
Although we as a human race have proven we can draw up amazing things from materials we’ve dug up from the ground, all is not perfect in MX-5 land. It would be very difficult for the average person to use this pint-sized roadster as a daily driver. If your daily commute involves bringing the car up to highway speeds, forget it. Even with the roof up, cabin noise is horrendously intrusive and will begin to try your patience the longer you put up with it. But if you want a quieter roadster, then you might want to check out the new Fiat 124 Spider that has more cabin insulation.
For the ND MX-5, Mazda has stamped out slightly more space inside the cabin. However, being 6-feet tall still has its disadvantages. The MX-5 fits like a pair of shrunken skinny jeans: you might get your legs in but God knows that top button will never fit like the way it used to.
Another quirk that became annoying was the placement of the centre console control knob for the infotainment system – it is located smack dab where you would rest your arm during shifting—resulting in accidental fourth-gear channel swaps. And the removable cup holders are a contortionist’s dream, located just behind your right elbow.
The MX-5 GT that we tested came equipped with full leather seats that were very comfortable. With the GT’s softer suspension setup and leather seats, it is a lot more forgiving when it comes to longer trips. However, I did wish that the seats were perforated for the implementation of ventilation to avoid those unsightly sweaty back situations.
The GT does make up for a lot of the shortcomings with the lower spec models, including the addition of blind-spot monitoring (which isn’t really needed until the top comes up). The GX version is likely the one that many will choose as it gives you the best value, but the GT may make sense for those who don’t need to spend their weekends at an autocross course.
The proven formula behind the Miata has always been the driving force behind its sales for the last quarter century, and they are one of the last few manufacturers that still put balance and lightweighting above all else. The MX-5 is an enthusiast’s car, built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. Though it is miniature in size and I barely fit inside, I have big love for the Miata, and this newest iteration makes it grow even stronger.
型号 Model: 2016 Mazda MX-5 GT
顏色 Paint Type: Blue Reflex Mica
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $39,200
試車售價 Price as Tested: $39,200
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,309
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 3,914 / 1,918 / 1,234
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,078
引擎 Engine: 2.0L SkyActiv inline-four, DOHC 16-valve
最大馬力 Horsepower: 155 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 148 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 8.8 / 6.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 205/45R17