Mazda: MX-5 ticks all the right boxes

Mazda: MX-5 ticks all the right boxes

It may be slighted as a ‘hairdresser’s car,’ by some circles, but you can’t take away the fact that Mazda’s MX-5 is the biggest selling sportscar on the planet. More than a million of the lightweight ‘pure’ roadsters currently roam the planet, and with a ground-up new car now in showrooms, that number’s sure to grow.

SKY-ACTIV is Mazda’s buzzword for a project to increase efficiency across its entire range in vital areas like emissions, weight and safety, and the new MX-5 has the full suite of tricks – including a hyper-frugal new 1.5-litre engine, teamed with slick and short six-speed gearbox.

2015 MX5 1.5L engineThe little engine that most certainly can makes more power than the outgoing 1.8-litre unit.

It weighs a smidge under 1000kg, and with advanced chassis engineering achieves exactly what it set out to do – provide an utterly engaging driving experience, without licence-threatening speed being necessary to get to the blood pumping.

2015 MX5 1.5L rear three quarterThe body has taken on the familiar Mazda family lines – the company’s ‘kodo’ design language, which gives a sense of fluid motion, even at standstill.

This is a brand new MX-5 in every way, and it’s the best yet – but, importantly, it doesn’t dilute where it’s come from, way back in 1989, and stays true to the British sportscars that inspired it.

2015 MX5 1.5L InteriorThe interior is far more modern than we’re used to – with flashy features like push button start, full-colour infotainment system with sat-nav, Bluetooth integration and internet radio service Pandora all bundled in a format that’s near luddite-proof in its ease of use.

A push button jog wheel in the centre console near the gearshift gives control over its features, with a large centrally-mounted dash display sited for a quick glance, meaning minimum time with eyes of the road.

One very welcome new feature is the fast-folding manual soft-top.

It can literally be raised or lowered in three to five seconds from the driver’s seat, fitting flush and maintaining those ‘kodo’ lines that the Mazda designers have worked so, so, hard to perfect.

In terms of safety equipment, the MX-5 packs in some fairly cutting-edge features that don’t wreck the enjoyment of driving.

There’s blind-spot monitoring, including rear cross-traffic alert – nice to have when you’re in a little sportscar in a land of whopping great SUVs – as well as dynamic stability and traction control systems, electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, which is excellent to keep that sexy body looking its best, even on motorways.

That said, it only scored four stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.

As a sporty package, the 2015 MX-5 without a shred of doubt a big step up. There’s a second engine option on its way – a more powerful two-litre version – which should, theoretically, make it even better.

Mazda’s focus on keeping MX-5 the way it was originally conceived, while giving it major overhauls in all areas of its technology, as well as its design, is the key to how well the little roadster is going to sell.

Whether you’re a self-proclaimed driving enthusiast that likes to get out in the country every weekend for a top down blast, or you’re perfectly happy just keeping it urban, it’s very difficult to keep the dopey grin off your face.

In terms of abilities, it’s got a stiff, but not kidney-killing, suspension set-up which helps give it huge amounts of turn in, once you’ve taken full advantage of the extremely responsive brake system.

Keep things smooth in the MX-5 and it’ll reward you with a dynamically pleasing drive that doesn’t shy away its purist roots.

From front to back, there’s very, very little to fault – the only thing we’re really disappointed in so far is that we’ve yet to have a blat in the two-litre version.

Price: $40,995 ($250 surcharge for Soul Red paint as shown here)

Words:

Pictures: Robert Barry

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