2019 Mazda MX-5

More power, same goodness



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 04 Oct 2018

By James Park


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   Another MX-5? For some irresistible reason, I seem to review this car every chance I get.

   Without an ounce of cynicism, I blame Mazda for producing this little gem of a roadster the enthusiasts have fallen head-over-heels in love with. It’s like the stash of adult magazines a teenage boy has hidden somewhere. He can’t help but to go look for it every chance he gets (Yes, such thing happened before Internet.)

   Now, the MX-5 – still Miata to millions of fans – is a small two-seat convertible known for fantastic handling, easy to operate soft-top and the slick-shifting manual gearbox. Every time one gets in the car, one can’t help but to enjoy the drive.

 

   Nobody drives this car for sheer power. If you want to soil your undergarments at a drag race, give the Challenger Demon a try. Having said that though, 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque from the MX-5’s two-litre four are nothing to warm the hearts of even the most avid of the fan base.

   Mazda knows this as well and for 2019, the MX-5 gets significant upgrades that include a stronger engine. It is the same naturally aspirated 2 litre four, but the engineers have bored out the diameter of ports and valves, upped the fuel-injection pressure, decreased the weight of pistons and connecting rods, as well as stiffen the crankshaft to boost the total output to 181 horses and 151 lb-ft of twist.

 

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Those who clamoured for a turbocharger may be disappointed, but I believe this increase in power is quite adequate and does not overwhelm the car’s intended purpose. The newly massaged engine sounds touch more raucous and spins effortlessly towards 7,500 peak rpm, 700 more than before.

   In reality, three more lb-ft of torque does not translate into quicker acceleration, but the new car does sound and feel more powerful. Thanks also to the relatively light weight of 1,065 kg (soft-top, manual), the MX-5 can reach highway speed in less than six seconds.

   The engineers didn’t mess with the suspension tuning; that’s a good thing. The MX-5 remains an agile handler that confidently eats up curves and fast corners. The steering is light, precise, and communicative.

   Those who don’t know or don’t want to bother anymore can opt for the six-speed automatic transmission, no problem… and miss out on something special. Because the MX-5’s manual is one of the better ones that make the drive even more enjoyable. The easy-on-the-ankle clutch is smooth and the short-throw lever clicks into gates with precision.

   Apart from the power increase, the new model also gets… wait for it… telescoping steering wheel. The fact that it didn’t have one before boggles the mind. But when you are ensconced in the MX-5’s driver’s seat, chances are you become a much more tolerable person to care about such quibble.

   The new car also gets rear-view camera, as mandated by the United States’ government. This is helpful, of course, but not really necessary for such a small vehicle.

   As before, one can open and close the manual top with one hand. All convertible tops should be this simple to operate. But like any other convertibles, outside noise seeps readily into the cabin. Those not used to it may think one of the windows is open and try to close it before realizing it’s already up.

 

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   As before, one can open and close the manual top with one hand. All convertible tops should be this simple to operate. But like any other convertibles, outside noise seeps readily into the cabin. Those not used to it may think one of the windows is open and try to close it before realizing it’s already up.

   In the MX-5 lineup, the base GS starts from $32,900 before taxes and other fees. The GS-P is $36,900 and the top-of-the-line GT demands $39,900. The GT model provided to this writer came with 400 loonies worth of special paint that kicked the price up to $40,300.

   Even without the small increase in power, the MX-5 remains an attractive, athletic and fun-to-drive sports car that is easy and economical to live with. I can’t wait to review the next iteration.

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(James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

 

2019 Mazda MX-5 GT

Price: $39,990

As tested: $40,300

Engine: 2 litre four

Power: 181 hp/151 lb-ft

Transmission: 6 spd manual

Drive: RWD

Fuel: 9.0 litres per 100km (city), 7.0 litres (highway)

Best: power increase, agile handling

Worst: noisy cabin

Competition: Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ

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