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Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe Sports
Forever young
July 2009

LIKE Hollywood celebrities John Travolta, Nicole Kidman and Demi Moore, the MX-5 appears to have found the secret to eternal youth.

The sporty Mazda has turned 20, which is positively ancient in the motoring world, but it remains as vibrant and playful as the day it zoomed off the production line in 1989.

It’s no wonder the loveable roadster has recorded 855,000 sales world-wide _ 15,000 in Australia _ a feat honoured in the Guinness Book of World Records under the best‐selling open two‐seat sports car category.

Even more amazing is the fact it has hardly changed over the years, aside from its engine growing from the original 1.6-litre job.

Mazda has recently whipped out the Botox though and found a good personal trainer to give the MX-5 a trim and tauter look.

Cosmetic surgeons have made its exterior a little bolder and more aerodynamic.

There are new side sills, a revised “integrated’’ rear bumper design, and trendier rear lights, as well as three new colours Aluminium Metallic, Metropolitan Grey Mica and Sunset Yellow.

Inside, you can see improvements to quality and comfort.

The decorative panel on the dashboard has changed from piano black to dark silver, and other highlights include new meter graphics for better readability, red‐backlit LCD tripmeter/odometer display, silver-ringed climate control knobs, the latest factory‐installed audio system and a soft‐touch centre console cover that’s easier on the elbow.

The two seats are snug and while there is sufficient leg room once you are in the cockpit, lankier drivers - like this Roadtester - look far from graceful climbing in and out of the MX-5.

The 2.0‐litre petrol engine is fundamentally the same, producing 118 kW of power and 188 Nm of torque.

However, maximum power is now reached at 7,000 rpm (300 rpm higher than before), and the rev‐limit is now at 7,500 rpm on manual models (500

rpm higher than before), making the driving experience even more exciting.

The manual transmission has been tweaked to allow faster and smoother changes.

The combination of the higher revving engine and more refined transmission sees the MX‐5 sprint a bit faster from 0–100 km/h in 7.6 seconds. This was previously 7.8 seconds.

Fuel economy is improved, too, now 8.1 litres per 100 km (0.7 of a litre less).

The MX‐5 Soft‐top was joined by a retractable hard‐top version in 2006, called the Roadster Coupe, which continues today.

The top is a real gem, opening and closing in just 12 seconds _ among the fastest in the segment.

Remarkably, it does not take away any boot space when open.

The retractable hard top weighs only 37 kg, including its folding mechanism.

Thanks to this, the MX‐5 Roadster Coupe is just as agile and dynamic as the MX‐5 soft top, maintaining its ideal 50:50 weight distribution. The boot volume of 150 litres is also identical.

The range starts with the Mazda MX‐5 Soft‐top manual, which is priced from $43,850, and is topped by the MX-5 Roadster Coupe Sports automatic at $53,655. We tested the Roadster Coupe Sports manual listed at $51,455.

All variants get a range of quality standard features, including remote central locking, air‐conditioning, six‐speaker, six‐disc stereo with Aux‐in jack, cruise control, power windows and mirrors, tilt‐adjustable steering, driver's seat height adjust, and leather‐wrapped gear shifter / steering wheel / handbrake lever.

There’s also driver and passenger front and side airbags, Dynamic Stability Control with Traction Control System and antilock brakes, 17‐inch alloy wheels and Limited Slip Differential (manual only).

MX-5 Touring adds leather seats and trim, drilled alloy pedals, and Bose© premium seven‐speaker sound system, Roadster Coupe comes with the electric folding hard‐top roof and Coupe Sports spices things up even more with RECARO sports seats and BBS alloy wheels.

With its look-at-me value, fun driving characteristics and affordable price tag, the refreshed MX-5 is set to continue to lead the way in the popularity stakes.

Those who want to stay young will find it a perfect playmate.

New Mazda MX-5 Range

6‐sp manual, 6‐sp Activematic

Mazda MX‐5 Soft‐top* $43,850 ‐

Mazda MX‐5 Soft‐top Touring $45,720 $47,920

Mazda MX‐5 Roadster Coupe $48,755 $50,955

Mazda MX‐5 Roadster Coupe Sports $51,455 $53,655



ENGINE: 2.0-litre, DOHC, fuel-injected 4-cylinder

POWER: 118kW at 7000rpm

TORQUE: 188Nm at 5000rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive

0-100km/h: 7.6 seconds

ECONOMY: 8.1 litres/100km (Premium)

WEIGHT: 1167kg

PROS: Exciting, look-at-me value, price

CONS: Impractical for most people

BOTTOM LINE: From $48,755, $51,455 (Sports model, as tested)