|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
This is one car that’s not bound by what’s written on the specification sheet. Although the numbers themselves are pretty respectable all around, it goes well beyond that. At almost every opportunity, people quizzed me: how fast does it go? How many G’s does it pull in corners? How soon does it brake? My response is always the same: perfect. See, the MX-5 doesn’t really care about scorching the quarter mile or anything of the sort. Instead, it cares that you actually relish every opportunity you get behind the wheel. With the MX-5, I’ve had more coffee meet-ups than I’ve had in a month because I always relish driving it around. I didn’t want to go home and wanted to spend a few extra minutes with it whenever I can. If you want a solid threat to a long-term relationship, it’s the MX-5.
Make no mistake about it though: it’s a thing of beauty. The strong angularity of some elements is nicely balanced by the sensual curves in others. For those in the know, they’ll instantly recognize it as a Mazda; for those who don’t, they’ll think it’s something far more exotic.
It’s the same treatment you get with the interior where everything is designed to fit the driver with millimeter-like precision feeling like a bespoke tailored suit as a result. The steering wheel moves only up and down and the seat offers just minute adjustments, but everything feels perfect. Getting in and out is a challenge, but if you’re physically fit, it’s not a problem. It promotes the proper driving position because the moment you slack off, your knees bang against the dashboard. It’s the same for the lone passenger: he or she must be content sitting like the driver—no slouching or sleeping is tolerated here. This car is excellent for everyone except for those who don’t understand the joy of driving, so those who plan to be chauffeured need not apply.
For all its talk of being lightweight, the MX-5 isn’t exactly bare. For this P 1,860,000 automatic transmission variant, it comes pretty loaded with leather seats (heated if that amounts to anything), a seat-integrated Bose sound system, automatic climate control, and of course, the Mazda Connect infotainment system. Surprisingly though, for all the bells and whistles, it doesn’t come with cruise control. Although purists will crucify me for saying this, it does hurt its long-distance touring comfort.
The best thing about this car is that you get to share this joy of driving with someone special. Taken separately, the basic ingredients don’t say much, but when everything comes together, it becomes a harmonious balance of power and poise. Driving it in the city, with the top up obviously, this low-slung car is very easy to maneuver. Beyond the maneuverability, you just feel so connected with it. The cloth roof, for instance, lets enough ambient noise that it acts as pseudo-blind spot indicators, especially for the rear third quarter. The ride is firm, but provides enough compliance as not to cause discomfort to you or your passenger.
The engine note is always present and makes the entire experience that much more enjoyable. The raspy note of the 2.0-liter engine is very similar to that of a sports bike and the exhaust note is, for the lack of a better term, perfect. The engine pairs well with the lightweight chassis, but add to that the willing and responsive 6-speed automatic, and you have automotive nirvana. Normally, it’s hard to top a stick shift when driving a sports car, but in the MX-5, the application of the two-pedal set-up is just as good. The gearbox actually holds revs very well and is telepathic in its response. It even commands a downshift the split-second you need it and keeps the engine at its sweet spot all the time. What’s more, there’s no penalty to all this fun as it can do 9.91 km/L in a mixed setting (8.33 km/L in the city, 16.13 km/L on the highway).
As surprisingly good as it is to drive in the city, it comes alive when you take it out of town. On the final day of the drive, I decided to drop the top and head towards Tagaytay for the sunrise. Here, the MX-5 takes a different character. As engaging as it is with the top up, it becomes even better with the top down. Frankly, I’ve never liked the notion of driving without a roof not because of pollution or what not, but because I never enjoyed the attention. However, I’m making an exception here because the experience is simply indescribable. It sounds like a cliché, but with the roof down, you feel it tapping into your very soul. It becomes your ultimate source of joy. Words cannot describe the fun you have corner carving with the wind in your hair and the sun caressing your skin. It’s during this time when you feel all your stresses melt away and feel rejuvenated once more. It’s the proverbial fountain of youth. If this is the very reason the Mazda MX-5 is so successful and revered, then I can vouch for that.
2016 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Skyactiv
|Ownership||2015 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Skyactiv A/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Sports Car|
|Engine / Drive||F/R|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Direct Injection, NA|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||160 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||200 @ 4,600|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 95~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,063|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Bridgestone Potenza S001 205/45R17W (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||No|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||9|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|