Roadster gets racier
If you haven’t been behind the wheel of a Miata in awhile, or ever, slipping into the Recaro seats included in the 2016 Mazda MX-5 with the optional
Sport Package will feel like putting on a brand new pair of your favourite sneakers. It’s immediately comfortable, and feels like you could run a marathon in it.
It’s been a year since the release of the fourth-generation roadster, and the car remains unlike anything available, besides perhaps the soon-to-be-released Fiat 124 Spider that is an MX-5 in disguise. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say, but my biased peepers think Mazda has the upper hand in the styling department.
Designing a model that’s shorter than the original by more than 30 millimetres is no easy feat, and its slightly wider stance and curvy body panels gives the convertible a serious presence on the road that looks almost as great standing still as it does whipping along the pavement.
Priced at $4,400, the Sport Package isn’t cheap, but it adds another dimension to the already impressive Miata experience and is much more cost-effective than if you were to price out all the components separately.
Firstly, you’ll notice the dark finish 17-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, contrasting nicely against the Soul Red Metallic paintjob on my press vehicle. Bright red Brembo front brake calipers peek out from underneath the wheels, and the standard rear calipers are painted to match. Finally, inside, the seats have been upgraded to supportive leather and Alcantara-trim Recaros.
Some might say the interior is too snug, but I look at the cockpit like a pilot fitting into a g-suit. It’s designed to mold around you, putting all the controls at the perfect distance so that manipulating the car becomes effortless. The steering wheel, manual transmission, and pedals all felt like an extension of my body while I was driving, especially on some of the twistier roads north of Vancouver I took her to.
Of course, creating the ideal ergonomic passenger compartment doesn’t come without a price – storage space is very limited, restricted to a couple of shallow console storage spaces. At least there are dual cup holders.
Power output hasn’t changed, rated at 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Not huge numbers, but it’s surprising how adequate that is to get this 1,058-kilogram sports car moving. The MX-5 is quite dignified in the noise department when compared to other two seater rear-wheel drive offerings, but the exhaust does give a nice little purr to remind you of the fun times to come when
you start up the engine. It sounds equally pleasing when you wind up the motor to the higher rpm range.
While I didn’t get to test the high-performance stopping power of the Brembos to anywhere near their limit, the Miata literally stopped on a dime when I jabbed the brakes to stop for a yellow light, with zero noise or other drama.
As good as the new Miata is, nothing floored me more than the stellar fuel efficiency of the SKYACTIV-equipped roadster. After a full week of driving the car the way it’s meant to driven, the combined city/highway fuel consumption somehow read an anaemic 7.3 L/100 km. Incredible.
The 2016 Mazda MX-5 GS with the Sport Package starts at $39,700.
PHOTO: Benjamin Yong