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Mazda 2016 MX-5 Review: Pocket Rocket

MX5

We review Mazda’s fourth generation MX5!

An affordable sports car. That’s an oxymoron if we’ve ever heard one, but it’s something that’s been running at the back of our minds ever since we picked up Mazda’s latest sports coupe, the MX5, for a test drive. Sports cars usually come bearing price tags of over two million pesos, but Mazda’s fourth generation MX5 is priced at just a million and six hundred thousand pesos for the basic model. Despite that, it’s one of the funnest cars we’ve ever driven in recent memory and is probably one of the more practical, everyday sports cars you can buy today.

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If there’s one thing that most people know about the MX5 or the Miata as it’s more popularly known is that it’s not a masculine looking car. Earlier versions of this pocket rocket looked like something a florist would drive – no offense to florists, of course. It lacked a certain aggressiveness – its face was too soft, too feminine – simply put it didn’t look masculine enough for most drivers.

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That’s changed with the fourth generation MX5. The face is meaner and leaner, thanks to Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy. The back of the car has been reworked as well, and from certain angles looks a little like BMW’s Z5 sports coupe. Even though it’s shorter by 3 inches compared to the previous version, the 2016 MX5 looks like it could take on bigger and heavier sports cars, easy. It’s like the Manny Pacquiao of sports cars – all muscle, no fat.

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Speaking of fat, Mazda has managed to trim off almost 100 kilos off of the 2016 MX5 compared to the previous generation. They’ve also gone with a 2.0 liter, SkyActiv engine that only produces around 155 horses. While most people wouldn’t call anything with less than 200hp a sports car, the MX5 isn’t your typical sports car. Weighing at around 1,063 kilos for the A/T version, the MX5 is one of the lightest sports cars you’ll see on the road today, which means a power to weight ratio that is off the charts. In the Philippines the MX5 comes with 17-inch aluminum wheels.

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That power-to-weight ratio doesn’t come cheap, as Mazda had to cut a few things from the car. Things like a powered roof, for example – the 2016 MX5 only comes with a manual soft top, though to be fair the top drops down quite easily and locks positively into place in a few seconds. There’s no glove compartment, though you get a locker at the back for the stuff you need to store. The cup holders are back there too, which isn’t ideal because they’re too easy to accidentally hit with your elbows. The CD player is there as well, but Mazda could have gotten rid of that too – who the hell still listens to CD’s in 2015? There’s not a lot of room in the car obviously since this is a 2-wheeled roadster, but even someone as big as me managed to squeeze in there comfortably in the seats without too many problems.

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Inside the cabin you’ll see an 8-inch touchscreen display, along with a full-bodied entertainment system that includes Bluetooth connectivity two USB and an aux port. The sound system is absolutely fantastic, and the A/T version gets a 9-speaker Bose system as standard.All the relevant controls are at the driver’s fingertips, and Mazda has struck a nice balance between sheer number of dials and ease of use. The MX5 that Mazda lent us was the A/T version though you can get the M/T as well for a few thousand pesos less though you do lose the nice leather seats and 9-speaker Bose sound system. A lot of you are probably horrified at the thought of driving a sports car with an automatic transmission, but after driving through hellish Manila traffic the past few days during the holidays, no less – our foot thanks Mazda for their foresight.

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Let’s talk for a few seconds about the engine inside the MX5. It’s a 2.0L SkyActive inline four engine that produces 160 PS and 200 Nm of torque, and like we said earlier it’s capable of producing around 155 horses give or take. That’s not a lot of power for a sports car, but paired with the light frame, the MX5 is capable of going from 0 to 100 kilometers in less than 8 seconds.

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Another thing that the engine is capable of producing is very good mileage, at least according to the indicator on the MX5, which read around 15 kilometers per liter. That’s not bad at all, considering what the MX5 is good at.

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And what it’s good at is putting you front and center of the driving experience. Once you’re free of the gridlock in Manila and driving down winding mountain roads with the top down, the MX5 absolutely shines. The car is quick and the suspension is stiff enough for track use while being soft enough for everyday drives. Handling is fantastic, and the exhaust note is loud without being obnoxious. Put the top down and the driving experience becomes pretty damn visceral. While we would have loved a manual transmission to test, the A/T version had paddle shifters which allowed us to go through gears quickly while driving. Put the transmission to sports mode, and it’s almost like driving a manual. Almost.

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At just Php one million six hundred and eighty thousand pesos for the M/T version and one million eight hundred sixty thousand pesos for the A/T version, the Mazda MX5 is one of the nicest sports cars you can get for the money. It’s a pure driver’s car, and it’s certainly going to turn heads whenever you drive it. If you do get one, you’ll probably be taking more out of town trips to Tagaytay or Baguio, just to feel the wind in your hair and the sound of your tires screeching off of the asphalt.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

5 Comments

  1. One of the gripes I have with car reviews is not having the ownership cost. Fuel-consumption these days isn’t enough to let me know how much I’d spend overtime. We’d love to know how expensive it is to maintain it (casa) etc…

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