|We finally got our hands on the Mazda MX-5, the world’s best-selling Roadster, for a trial run following the 2-seater roadster’s recent absent from Mazda Malaysia’s inventory.|
Mazda MX-5 Roadster, Covertible
The two-seater, also a Convertible, holds the driver and a passenger firmly in place and presents an impressionable car that’s very compact, light and quick on its feet. This is not a sports car. It was not meant to be a sports car, and it really should not handle better than a super car. Every time we have a convertible, we should not expect more than that. The 2.0 liter 4-cylinder 16 valve DOHC S-VT powerplant, mated to an automatic torque converter 6-speed box, churns 118 kW (158 hp) at 6,700 rpm with a 188 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm. This much power output for a car that has dimensions similar to an A–segment variant is most commendable indeed. The MX-5 reached 900,000 units sold in early 2011, then had two updates for the European markets in July and November.
We refuelled the car with RON 95, which did not prove to be a problem for this go-getter. Mazda literally stuck in a large sedan engine into a compact chassis. Equipped with 205/45 R17 tyres, the Roadster is very capable handling most corners, takes bends like a dream, and to further improve handling the roadster is instilled with a rear wheel drive package and front-mounted engine chassis, which makes it an even weight balance at 50:50 distribution. It’s not super quick but quick enough for the average driver that wants a sporty convertible. This car is designed to be light, which is a bit of opposite intention when it’s reinforced to be a roadster. Many parts in the car is designed light, therefore the use of non-carbon reinforced plastic is extensive. Additional equipment that you would usually find standard in many cars at this price range were absent, such as cruise control and a nice big navigator screen with DVD playback. But these are minor issues, as there are loads of after market items available out there.
The first day we had this roadster, traffic was atrocious almost at every road towards the LDP and even the LDP itself, left and right was pack full of cars. And to drive a roadster in such traffic conditions, would not do it justice. So we decided to just quit driving for the day and started the next day where the traffic would be normal again on a weekend. The roadster’s ride quality, such as smoothness gear changing, noise level at cruising speed (50 to 80 km/h) and interior fittings were effective; bearing in mind the ‘light’ and fun-cruise ride principles of this roadster. So did Mazda make the MX-5 car light enough, well in heavy traffic the car did consume its fair share of required fuel, therefore the overall weight didn’t really make a difference during heavy traffic conditions. And it’s worst if the MX-5 got stuck in severe traffic.
The roadster is meant more for a weekend drive rather than a daily commute to work. There is a small rear compartment for some overnight luggage. Putting the roof down, which is an automated task, takes 12 seconds. The roof does not compromise the luggage space, as the designated space is for the roof and the left-over small portion is reserved for compact baggages. The seals and rubber fittings for the roof assembly is tight and neat to ensure water do not sip through. The roof opens up quick at a pull of the bulky latch at the edge of the top of the windshield and push of a button on top of the center of the dashboard. A minor problem we found very annoying was the alarm system, which kept beeping sometimes for no apparent reasons. At one point it even disallowed us from opening the trunk. After a couple of efforts of pressing and switching buttons, turning off the ignition and starting again, it then rebooted and everything went back to normal. We could easily see this being a major problem some time in the future. Time came to refill our MX-5, and we spent quite a while looking for the gas lid access at the station. After a while, we found it in the glove compartment behind the arm rest box. After this once-in-a-lifetime experience (as we are pretty sure most manufacturers are sane enough to put the fuel lever at the usual place), we took a a drive with the top down which felt invigorating and completely satisfying. It’s like swimming with the dolphins for long distance swimmers.
The roadster is pretty basic in terms of equipment. Its audio system is a 6-Disc CD changer & MP3, with 6 speakers. Sound quality was pretty decent, even with the top down, though there were some distortions at higher volume levels. The steering wheel is equipped with the functional buttons such as volume, channel controls and gear shifters: the up shifter is behind the steering while the down shifter is a button on the steering itself. Unless absolutely necessary, the shifters are recommended for a more spirited drive, otherwise the dependable auto transmission which downshifts as the driver hits the accelerator hard, should get the MX-5 up to sufficient pick up speed. Additionally, gear sifting with the six-speed gearbox is rather seamless and precise, as well as hits the right gear at most intervals. At the same time, the hydraulic-powered steering could be a little too tight for regular drivers, especially on longer drives. The writer felt his sore arm from the spirited drives on the roadster over extended periods was due to two probable reasons. Firstly, it could be due to needing more grip to turn the steering, or secondly the leather-wrapped steering was just a little rigid.
Moving to the interior, the leather seats are sportily shaped to keep the driver and passenger up straight. Leg room was definitely limited as we wished we had more leg room to stretch out a bit. So if you are anything above 5’ 10”, expect a bit of a squeeze. The MX-5 also offers 4-wheel Anti braking system, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC with a switch to deactivate if needed), Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist and all-important dual airbags. Air-conditioning and temperature adjustments are manual (no dual climate control) for the roadster. For increase stopping power both front and back are equipped with disc brakes, front being ventilated. The MX-5 is set up with a double wishbone suspension at the front and a multi link at the rear. Dual-rounded exhaust, rounded front fog lights and black interior trimmings with silver garnishes are standard features.
Comfort-wise, our test MX-5 unit passed our evaluations as the car’s ride height enabled exemplary handling and absolute stability on extreme bends. It could have been that the electronics would not allow this car to fail at bends, or maybe we just reached its maximum potential. We also discovered that the MX-5 was as zippy as it portrayed, but we would recommend that the roadster be driven at a little higher speed than cruising speed (90 – 120km/h) for a bit more elation. Distance driving could be a problem with comfort and luggage space. Also bear in mind that this car only seats two and not the usual four plus one. So when taking it back to the festive destination, expect to only carry one for a joyride. It’s a pleasure cruiser at its best.
Of course in the UK, the MX-5 is more of a joyride car, taxes is not as ridiculous and many are able to afford the world’s best-selling roadster. However, the taxation rates in this country makes it an ex-pensive roadster to own, it’s like giving up a small fortune to purchase a luxury vehicle. So does the MX-5 commands a premium price of RM 240,000? Of course not, but without taxes, I would definitely recommend this car to anyone who’s in need of some fun, pure driving therapy.
The MX-5 has a light chassis weighing at 1080kg (kerb Weight), to match the compact highly-tuned powerplant. The roadster hit 160km/h at 3500rpm pretty easily and probably cruise at that level or slightly under the 150km/h threshold well, but after that it would start to struggle a little to reach higher speed. Hitting 190 km/h was a bit difficult, but we did, while reaching the manufacturer’s claim top speed of 212 km/h was darn near impossible on domestic traffic situations. It cruised fantastically at 120 km/h at 2500 rpm, contrary to somewhat of an effort to keep the roadster below 100 km/h.
Our drive up the hills with the roof down was a drive we had not experienced before. Imagine driving with favorite tunes, while the canopy. covered in green fern leaves, with the morning mountain breeze caressed the faces. Moreover, we had a 360 degree view of green scenery, and it was the MX-5’s powerplant quiet purr and effortless ascend up the hills that allowed a laid back drive.
In a nutshell, the car performed more than adequately, by gluing itself to the road even at high speeds, while giving ample power to push it quickly to your desired speed. Another point worth mentioning, if you are ever intending to go for a high speed run, please put the top up, as it creates drag when it’s down. Now obviously more drag means higher consumption though this alone isn’t the real issue” it’s more of a safety issue. Side winds tend to drag the car slightly off during high speed, especially when the top is down. Our MX-5 unit probably averaged 10km/ltr, but bear in mind we did get stuck in probably one of the worst traffic jams in the country’s history or by our own interpretations.
Would we buy this car? Yes we would, we would even probably sell our first born to own this car. Can luxury cars or super cars replace the MX-5? No, simply because the MX-5 is in its own league. The roadster has decent amount of power for its category, and that rear-wheel drive capability simply aces it. Further, the MX-5 gives you a decent ride comfort, while cars in its category simply encourage osteoporosis at a younger age due to an excessive 2.0l turbo powerplant and rigid comfort levels.
So why are there, not many MX-5s out there? It’s probably the image and price matching. And the price is what most citizens suffer with cars. Instead we see more luxury sedan cars from the Premium makes. But every once in a while, there will be an individual that will stand out from the crowd like an MX-5 owner, who’ll make most of us envy him/her.
Mazda MX-5 images