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Mazda MX-5 SKYACTIV G 2.0L – 2015-2016 Car of the Year Japan

Carmakers strive to outdo themselves, and each other, each time they come out with the full model change of an existing car, with every iteration, you can see how technology of the time is reflected in each era’s version. Most times, these advancements are good, but you must admit, a lot of cars now are far detached from their beginnings. I’m not complaining, for some cars, it’s a step up each time, but for other cars, you find yourself looking for the car that was.

How is this fourth generation Mazda MX-5? It must be good, it was awarded 2015-2016 Car of the Year Japan. Lets have a closer look at it.

It first came out in 1989 and 25 years later, it still resembles the original. This latest MX-5 is all new from the ground up, smaller and lighter than the last one. Locally only available with one power plant option, under the hood is a Skyactiv-G 2.0L 4 cylinder that puts out 160hp at 6,000rpm with torque of 200nm at 4,600rpm mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.

They’ve done away with the power roof of the last generation, opening and closing the soft top is pretty easy without it, easily opened and close with one arm from the driver’s seat.   Its looks are sharper, as they’ve applied the KODO design to the MX-5, and it looks really good. The slim LED headlights and larger airdam make this more aggressive looking and if you’re around back, the rear brake lights are distinct. The MX-5 retains its classic profile with the cabin set far back with a long hood stretched out front.

It’s a roadster, or Spider/Spyder, which is defined as an open car seating two or three with an emphasis on sporting appearance or character. One look and you’d know it traces it roots to the MX-5 of 25 years ago, staying faithful to its original design, especially since this generation is smaller than the last one.

Inside the tops of the doors are painted the same as the body color. Like other mazda models, theres the lcd display on the center of the dashboard that’s part of the BOSE audio entertainment system, and you know that’s gonna sound awesome, even with the top down. Things are set out symmetrically around the driver, guages have the tachometer set in the middle giving it a cockpit feel. Mazda moved the seats closer together and lower in the chassis. There’s adequate space for tall people even for a small car. The trunk space is smaller, at 130 liters, its been redesigned and can accommodate two small suitcases.

Hop in and start it up, the engine sound is not loud, but pronounced enough for you to notice. Move the gear stick into D and you’ll find this an extremely easy car to drive, it’s a sports car, yet doesn’t have the learning curve of more expensive super cars, yet just as fun to drive. Purists will suggest a manual transmission, but the MX-5’s automatic transmission is quick, and for roadster newbies, lets you thoroughly enjoy your drive while keeping both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

The a/t gear box seems to read how you drive and lets you take it to higher revs when you’re on the open road, but when you use the Sport Mode, it lets you have even more fun, keeping you in each gear’s sweet spot and downshifting right before you need it. The 205 17” wheels with gunmetal grey rims give you good traction and grip around the corners, traction and stability control are there to make sure you stay on the road.

Conversations with your lone passenger is easy even with the top down, road noise is kept to a minimum and if you’re alone, the BOSE 9-speaker sound system is more than adequate for blasting your road trip tunes. Top down is how you’ll want to travel most of the time with a car as cool as this, you will get attention… the car on its own already gets a lot of attention, but even more so with the top down.

Its priced at P1,860,000 for the a/t variant we got to test, the m/t is 1,680,000 and comes in soul red (+16.8K ), ceramic, crystal white pearl and jet black.

It’s a fun car to take on long drives, short drives, getting caught in traffic in, and that’s an understatement, perhaps the most fun you can have behind the wheel with your clothes on, whether or not you have company. Mazda’s Jinba-ittai (horse and rider as one) truly works in this car, you’ll feel like you were more part of it, the car reacting to your every impulse than just merely driving it.

Be warned, it WILL be a distraction from work and daily activities as it will constantly have you longing for the open road.

If you do decide to get one, you can be sure you’ve got an instant classic in your possession, just like the very first one that came out 25 years ago.

 

Words and Photos by Neil Pagulayan