08 Jan: Mazda MX5 GT

… Mazda MX5 GT Sport Nav+ …

I know it’s not British, and it’s certainly not made from fibreglass, but the Mazda MX5 is surely the spiritual successor to the original Lotus Elan. Small, perfectly formed, and not overburdened with excessive amounts of power, this is a car with handling and poise to savour.

For sure it has gained a bit of weight and girth since its introduction 30 years ago this year, but a modest power increase has more than compensated for that. The original 1.6 litre car tipped the scales at around 950 kgs whereas this latest 2 litre version is closer to 1075 kgs. However, the test car had 181 bhp compared to the original’s 115 bhp. That’s more than enough to off-set the start of middle age spread and get the pulse racing.

Top speed is not an issue in this camera infested national state but nearly 2 seconds has been shaved off the 0 to 60 time which is more important. Also, the near 50% power increase means that the enthusiastic driver can have a bit more fun in the corners. Whereas the original car appreciated and responded to a well chosen line and smooth driving style, the new one can be provoked to get the tail out. Perhaps not as quick through the turns, but twice the fun.

Otherwise it has the handling manners and charm of Colin Chapman’s original British sports car concept.

The original MX5 with its non adjustable steering column was a tight squeeze for some, but the new 4th generation cars have slightly more room in the cabin. It also has the blissful accessory of a height adjustable steering column so that it now just about accommodates the larger figure and is no longer the domain of the stick thin and undernourished.

It’s still a snug fit and the driver sits beside rather than above the gearbox which highlights the other big attraction of this small car. The 6 speed gearshift has all the ‘imprecision’ of a switch. That’s meant as a compliment because it feels as though the short lever is directly connected to each gear and the push or pull action exactly mimics the actual width of each gear cog. It’s a delight to use and is perfectly matched by light and fulsome steering and a responsive engine which reacts to the merest touch of the pedal.

Add all that to the double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear end and you come close to automotive perfection for the open road. Even in the depths of Winter there is a strong temptation to put the hood down and just enjoy what is left of open road motoring before governments and anti-auto campaigners tell us to get on our bikes or simply replace us with robots.

The only real problem with this latest MX5 is that it’s an expensive wee tyke. In terms of metal and components it’s dear at £25,795 for a two-eater, but in terms of smiles per mile it’s really hard to beat.

I just love it, and I defy anyone who enjoys motoring for the sheer joy of it, not to love it too.

  • Review Date: January 8, 2019
  • Price
    £26,585 (as tested)
  • Engine
    1998cc, 4 cylinder petrol with 181 bhp
  • Performance
    0-62 mph in 6.5 secs, flat out at 136 mph
  • Economy
    40.9 mpg (combined)
  • CO2 emissions
    156 k/gm

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