Subtle changes keep MX-5 on top
With its top down, the Mazda MX-5 is perfect for a drive along the coast on a summer’s evening.

_THERE'S _not a lot left to be said about the Mazda MX-5. It's been around for more than 20 years and, in that time, Mazda has been reluctant to change too much with the zippy roadster coupe.

And with good reason - the MX-5 is the best-selling convertible two-seater in the world and, though it's still offering the same experience as when it debuted, that doesn't make it any less fun or enjoyable all these years later.

The 2013 model is the second facelift to the third-generation MX-5 but the changes are subtle.

The front is a bit more menacing with a deeper grille, and also has a new chin spoiler and more aerodynamic headlamp bezel design.

The acceleration response, brakes and suspension have all been upgraded to create a better driving experience.

There's no longer a soft-top option and the bonnet is now safer for any pedestrians who may hit the car but, aside from that, much is the same.

It's still in the same price range ($47,280 for the Roadster Coupe, $49,885 for the Coupe Sports), the 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder engine still produces 118kW of power and 188Nm of torque and the car is still a world of fun.

The ultra-responsive handling and braking make it a joy to swing in and out of corners.

Once the engine hits about 3000 revs there is a pleasing exhaust note which will bring a smile to many faces.

In truth, these factors added together produce more of an illusion of speed, as the drivetrain is probably a few kilowatts and Newton metres short of providing the white-knuckle experience found in other sports cars.

But the MX-5 has never been about power and its fantastic weight-distribution still makes it a driver's car. It remains a small vehicle and this reviewer cracked his scone on the roof going over the train line in Maylands.

Despite some minimal trim changes, the interior is still rather uninspired. The stereo - which has a six-disc CD player and auxilary input but lacks Bluetooth, a USB or a sat-nav option - seems dated.

But still, when the top is down on a summer's evening and you're driving along the coast, it's hard to care, especially at its price point. That's arguably the key to the Mazda forging its own niche.

While one can get a similarly priced convertible four-seater sports coupe such as the BMW 1 Series 120i or Mercedes C-Class 180, but as far as getting a decent roadster toy you're basically choosing from the front-wheel- drive Mini Cooper S unless you want to fork out more than $70K for a Nissan 370Z.

Cheaper upstarts - the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ and Hyundai Veloster - may well provide stiff competition in the future but, until they get convertible options, the MX-5 offers something unique.

An all-new fourth-generation MX-5 lands in 2014 but, apart from some entertainment upgrades and a bit more oomph under the bonnet, there isn't a whole lot more one could ask of this evergreen roadster.


  • MAZDA MX-5 *

  • Model *Roadster Coupe

  • Price *$47,280

  • Engine * 2.0-litre four-cylinder

  • Outputs *118kW/188Nm

  • Transmission *Six-speed manual

  • Thirst *8.1L/100km

  • Safety *Not yet rated (Four stars for 2009 model)

The West Australian

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