Mazda's best Zoom Zoom yet...The new MX-5

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I've waited to review this roadster for a while. Here's why: 


The MX-5 has a list of accomplishments, both long and impressive. Consider for a moment that in March 2016 the MX-5 was awarded the title World Car of the Year (WCOTY) and the World Car Design of the Year at the New York Auto Show. Another notable accolade - it won the 2016 UK Car of the Year title. The list goes on and on. But the cherry on the MX-5's cake, a success that no doubt reflects in Mazda's bank account, is that this little open-topped bundle of fun is the world's best-selling sports car, having sold more than a million units. 


On top of these outstanding facts and figures, I've also heard my colleagues lamenting with smirks on their faces about the MX-5’s brilliance. 


So, what makes this car so good? 


Rewind back to 1989. This was the time the MX-5 was first launched. This cute first version, with its compact proportions and gimmicky pop-up headlights, helped to re-birth the roadster concept made famous by icons like the Lotus Elan, Alfa Romeo Spider, MG B, Triumph TR7 and Fiat Spider. It was, and still is small, agile and configured as only a true sports car should be with the engine in the front and the power driven through the rear wheels. The MX-5’s genius lies in its simplicity, light-weight and minimal mechanical complexity. 

In addition to this winning recipe, the nippy Mazda has always featured a lively compact engine. The fourth incarnation follows suit - now featuring a 1.5l or a 2.0l, albeit South African only gets the more powerful 2.0l, which is mated to an outstanding 6-speed manual gearbox. The manual gearbox is not just any manual gearbox I might add. It is perfected, made so by combining a short throwing action that lands into precise gear slots. The sensation leaves you wanting more… and more! Better still, the clutch action is light, adding to the ease of the MX-5's day to day usage and you’re focused on having fun. Gearboxes like the manual are so good they make automatic options seem jobless. At least for the purest sports car enthusiast.


The 4th generation MX-5 harks back to the original MX-5 – it is 4-inches smaller than the 3rd generation model or outgoing MX-5. It has also shed 100kg which means it weighs just over a 1000kg. That's light. Very light. Think for a moment that an Audi TT Roadster or a BMW Z4 weigh at least an additional 500kg. What this means and how it translates on the road is an absolute driving pleasure. 

The free revving engine offers an adequate amount of power (118Kw and 200Nm torque). When considering the cars’ featherweight advantage, these figures are impressive. You can expect to hit 100km/h for zero in around 7.3 seconds.

Albeit simple in its composition, the MX-5 isn’t basic. Rather, a host of all you need mod-cons are included in the cars price tag: advanced keyless entry, keyless push-button engine start, airbags SRS: front (driver and passenger) and side, Bluetooth® hands-free phone and audio capability,

climate control, air-conditioning, cruise control, daytime running lamps (LED), headlamps (LED),

headlamps auto on/off function, Hill Launch Assist (HLA), I-Stop Standard, leather seats,

Internet radio integration (Pandora®, Stitcher™ and Aha™), Premium Bose® 203-watt amplifier with 9 speakers, rain-sensing wipers, 7-inch touchscreen display (MZD Connect) and 17-inch alloy wheels. Basically, you’ll want very little.

What you may be wanting more of is storage space. The new MX-5 is light on that. There is no glove box, no side door bins, but there are center console storage bins albeit compact. The boot is also small, but you could get a week’s worth groceries in it, which can’t be said about a Jaguar F-Type.


But you’re not going to buy this Mazda for practicality. Rather, it’s the sensation that it leaves you with – like a naughty kid – you smile inside as the MX-5 tickles you in all the right spots to and from each of your journeys.  


What I liked

  • Unique looks.
  • Design details.
  • Playful driving dynamics.
  • Very easy operating manual droptop roof.


What I didn’t

  • Compact interior.
  • Limited storage space.


The competition

Toyota 86


The pricing

2.0L Roadster Coupe 6-speed manual - R 441 700


The Service and warranty

The Mx-5 comes standard with a 3-year unlimited kilometer factory warranty. Included is a 3-year roadside assistance, a 3-year service plan, and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty is also included.


My choice

2.0L Roadster Coupe 6-speed manual - R 441 700


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