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MX-5 sprightlier, sharper looking

2008-12-10 14:11
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Mazda
Model MX-5
Engine 2l, in-line four
Power 118kW @ 7 000r/min
Torque 188Nm @ 5 000r/min
The world’s favourite roadster has been restyled (slightly) and benefits from new engine bits, raising engine speed parameters.

Essentially al facelift, the latest MX-5, which in the early 90s proved dividing Japanese quality by design could yield a palatable, fun driving coefficient, should carry favour with most open top motoring enthusiasts.

Sharper looking

Exterior styling upgrades hinge primarily on a new, more aggressive front end featuring Mazda’s five-point grille, framed with enlarged fog light bezels. An extended character line runs along the flanks, fleshing out the revised styling treatment.

The characterful interior has some new trim, though the stylish round dials remain at home in the instrument binnacle. Darkened silver panel and air vent trim rings have been added to the length of the dashboard, offsetting the primarily black interior.

As befits a soft-top roadster, soft padding has been added to the door armrests and centre console storage box lid, whilst seats now boast larger side bolsters and a choice of materials.

Higher revving

Mechanically MX-5 now features a newly forged crankshaft, journaling new floating piston pins and valve springs. Although these new internals render no additional power output, they do raise the power peak from 118kW at 6 700r/min to 7 000/rmin; the rev limit increased from 7 000r/min to 7 500r/min too.

Drive is still via either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. The auto benefits from more elaborate electronic control, gaining two shift modes: active adoptive shift and direct mode.


Those who prefer the more classic roadster driving experience are sure to be pleasantly surprised by the induction sound enhancer found on manual shift MX5s. This typically elaborately named Japanese device amplifies air induction noise from the engine bay and reverberates it around the cabin for a more visceral, nostalgic MG roadster driving experience – did we just say MG by accident?

A 26mm drop in the front roll-centre height MX-5 should endow the MX-5 with more neutral handling and a better quality ride. MX-5 is still rear-wheel drive though…

Immediately available in Japan, the facelifted MX-5 should roll onto US dealer floors by the second quarter of 2009.

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