Mazda MX-5 2.0: Open top fun

We’ve always believed that there’s a car for every occasion, whether it’s your morning commute to office, a weekend of fun exploring off-road terrains, a run to the grocery to pick up fresh produce, or just a midnight spin-kind of car that allows you to destress from the hustle and bustle of life.

While it may seem important to have a good car (to start off your day and week right) for the commute to work, we prefer to pay more attention to the kind of enjoyment you get from midnight-spins. Not that kind of illegal 150 km/h rushes, but rather one that you can just cruise on the empty freeways and let you hair down (literally).

And that’s why we love the new Mazda MX-5.

Can’t really decide whether it’s appealing, or a turn-off

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There’re two different school of thoughts regarding how the MX-5 looks. A group of petrolheads we spoke to insisted that it looked much sleeker than its predecessor. We agreed on that. It does look a lot more stylish and prominent on the roads.

But there’s also the other school who would insist that its gaping mouth is too big for its own good. Undeniably, the MX-5 sports a huge front air-intake, in fact, dominating the front facade of this otherwise cool roadster. Ugly or not, we leave it to your own aesthetic senses to decide.

The MX series with its hood up always leaves us cringing – we really didn’t like its proportions, especially the angular cut-off roof-line running down towards the boot. But with its top down, the MX-5 takes on a different perspective, looking a lot more like a small and sleek car instead of your suavy powerful roadster.

Bare minimal features

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In order to save weight (or so we were told), Mazda’s engineers decided to omit quite a number of features in the MX-5. For starters, the car comes without luxuries such as automatic seats, keyless entry, and mind you, has even a manual retractable soft-top.

It proved a little awkward for us to manually push back or extend the soft-top, but a little bit of force towards the end does the trick. Evidently, this isn’t a friendly feature for the less-flexible driver, or one whom your left hand can’t comprehend that amount of strength required to set up or keep your roof.

Despite its lack of the features above, the MX-5 offered us the basic engine start/stop button to fire up the car, as well as Mazda’s stock navigation and Bluetooth system.

When we first took over the MX-5 from our friends at Mazda, we thought it would be rather cool sitting in such an enclosed space with everything within your reach. However, the enclosed space didn’t live up to its expectations.

The lack of adjustments in the seats meant that we could only stretch out or lean back that much, and despite it having a neat(er) interior compared to other makes, it felt a tad claustrophobic if you drove with the roof up.

Open top fun

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The MX-5 is probably one of the very few naturally-aspirated roadsters that one can have proper fun in. It’s light, compact, and zips through traffic so easily you feel faster than you actually are.

With 158 horses out of the inline-4 plant, the MX-5 depends on its 200 Nm of torque to pull you off from the lights. It’s not fast per se, and it definitely wouldn’t trash a Fairlady or a BRZ from the lights.

The exhaust note of the MX-5 sounds rather impressive when you depress the ignition start button. It growls upon firing up, but slowly settles into a constant low-level hum unless you blip the accelerator.

With the roof down and the level of claustrophobia decreased significantly, zipping around in the MX-5 was a joy to us. Regrettably, the automatic transmission felt a little too laggy for a small and fiesty car (especially in red), and we were sure we would enjoy a manual gearbox much more than this.

But less the shortcomings of responsiveness, the MX-5 handled remarkably well and stable throughout our drive. Its steering is precise, it remains planted (less a little body roll) to the ground on corners, and it doesn’t offer you too bumpy a ride despite its low profile.

Joy to drive

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The definition of fun is subjective to each and every driver. Some may categorise it as being the first off from the lights, and keeping that bound ahead of every other car on the road. To us, the Mazda MX-5 is indeed a joy to drive.

You don’t necessarily need to have immense power or crackly loud exhaust notes to complete your midnight spin experience. You just need an open top, more than decent handling and ride quality, and relatively good looks (the car, we mean) to achieve that desired de-stressing run.

And the MX-5 provides just that.

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