RE: Mazda MX-5 1.5 (ND): PH Fleet

RE: Mazda MX-5 1.5 (ND): PH Fleet

Friday 5th April

Mazda MX-5 1.5 (ND): PH Fleet

Why 132hp and 975kg really might be all you need (most of the time)



Typically the point of these long-term tests is to discover the kind of irks or annoyances that might make a new car awkward or tricky to live with. The sort of issues that wouldn't usually crop up in a week-long test drive, and yet are the ones that are hopefully of some use to a prospective customer. That's what we aim to do, at least...

Our MX-5 though has been turning that idea rather on its head, chiefly by becoming ever more and more likeable as time passes. More and more miles with it only has only proved the point more convincingly that light, simple, clever cars really are the best thing for the future of motoring. Much as they were in its past.


Now that pared back nature does have its drawbacks. In the recent windy weather, the little Mazda did feel a little precarious at motorway speed, and noisier than most people would think ideal. Truth told 112lb ft into a headwind didn't really feel sufficient, either. Furthermore, the 1.5 does lose out on a few bits compared to our previous 2.0-litre - CarPlay is certainly an option box worth ticking (especially as the Mazda nav seems to miss a few things, like roundabouts), the keyless entry was so good it's now much missed and there's been the odd occasion when the limited-slip diff would be handy. Nowhere near as many as you might think, though.

By and large, however, what's coming through from living with an MX-5 is how well sorted it is as a 975kg car out of the box. Of course there will be tuning options, but the fact that it works so sweetly as standard is a mark of its development and tuning. Moreover, it does nothing that rankles or irritates in everyday use. Some cars will have a seat that's a bit too high, controls in illogical places or sub-par contact points that taint what's often a very good overall product; not so in the MX-5. It's all just methodically, thoroughly, near-perfectly done.

Nothing is hidden behind a veil of high-adrenaline mode options, either. The MX-5 just works in damn near every situation because it's been so cleverly engineered; there isn't a button for a sharper throttle, or weightier steering, or a different sound from the speakers - and it's never felt like needing one. Many if not most of the sports car benchmarks that Mazda always hoped to emulate made it without modes, and hopefully the MX-5 can continue in that vein - because there's simply no need when the car is this well sorted.


And, as has been discussed previously, the benefits of reducing weight and complexity produces better results everywhere. Petrol in this 1.5-litre car seems to last forever (and it's not used any oil despite how it's driven), the brakes and tyres show barely any signs of wear and they'll be cheaper to replace when the time comes because they're so small to start with.

It's a philosophy employed by the Alpine A110, albeit with a little more technology, to similarly captivating effect. Sure, the A110 is turbocharged, automatic and features a Sport mode, but that seem feeling of low-mass, low-inertia energy courses through the whole car as it does in the MX-5. And it feels absolutely fantastic. Let's hope a few more manufacturers will catch on soon.


FACT SHEET
Car:
2018 Mazda MX-5 1.5 Skyactiv-G SE-L Nav +
On fleet since: February 2019
Run by: Matt
Mileage: 3,404
List price new: £20,795 (as standard; price as tested £21,585 comprised of £790 for Soul Red Crystal Metallic)
Last month at a glance: Back to basics is best!

Previous reports:
Does less power equal less fun?

Author
Discussion

kultsch88

Original Poster:

87 posts

107 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Nice read. Would love to see a comparison between this and the BBR Super 160 map.

aka_kerrly

10,694 posts

151 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Nice little read.

This MX5 shares a similar power to weight ratio to the 80s hot hatches that provide (in my opinion) a great balance of fast enough for thrills without feeling that every time you mash the throttle for more than a few seconds you are into >100mph ban territory even if it does mean that once in every umpteen journeys someone in a diesel family car will get in your way & you wish you had an extra 100Hp.

rb_89

74 posts

11 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
It's all about power/weight! Can see myself owning one of these in the future as a second car / weekend toy. Glad to hear the 1.5 is good fun for every day (not about to lose my license) driving.

mal999

7 posts

186 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
I've a A110 and one of the last Toyota MR2s - does that count! Couldn't agree more, in this time of change the simple rewarding cars with feed back and feel are the gems.

Gandahar

6,390 posts

69 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
I'm not sure if I am getting old ( now 51) but for me this sort of car harkens back to when I was young and youthful and the XR2 with it's wide 185 Pirelli P6 tyres found a massive amount of grip to go with it's 96bhp! It was light as well of course. Highly chuckable.

The best roads are the twisty ones. A narrow light small car like the MX5 is ideally suited to those still. Use the NA engine, rev it out, don't be scared by silly grip levels or acceleration, just have fun.

As people get cars ever bigger size and weight wise I am sure this Lotus ethos for the MX5 will get more people buying it, taking the red pill rather than the blue pill.

The success of the Alpine A110 shows people are still not totally besotted with bhp and acceleration times.

My only gripe with the ND MX5 is they went to EPAS. Should have kept it as it was.

BBR did a turbo version for the 1.5 but I am not sure it has proved too popular. Shame as the 1.5 is a lighter car and a good way to fill out the performance without going over the top. Remove the aircon and move the battery to the boot and the front to back weight balance would still be fine with the added turbo weight.


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Gandahar

6,390 posts

69 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
mal999 said:
I've a A110 and one of the last Toyota MR2s - does that count! Couldn't agree more, in this time of change the simple rewarding cars with feed back and feel are the gems.
7 posts over all that time shows how much time you are enjoying driving rather than posting with your cars . Could not agree more.



beer

robertmcf99

2 posts

2 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
I've run an ND 1.5 since they were launched here in Australia in August 2015. Same spec as UK except it comes with the lsd. Now with 80,000 kms on the clock, I can say as a serial Elise and 911 owner its damn near perfect. Engine improves massively after 10,000 kms running in and the small size is a huge bonus. Its light weight lets it float over bumpy roads like an Elise, without the attendant difficulties in daily use - how about a manual hood that takes less than three seconds to raise or lower?
All this with 50mpg economy despite the occasional foray to the 7500 red line.
Can only think of replacing it with another one of the same, and that's a first for me!

Onehp

1,006 posts

224 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Gandahar said:
7 posts over all that time shows how much time you are enjoying driving rather than posting with your cars . Could not agree more.



beer
He could be on those detailing forums, cleaning the car from top to bottom instead of driving it every weekend because there was a speck of dust on it tongue outwink

No seriously, good going, same here, lighter is almost always better and mostly only post here because I have to sit behind a computer and wait for calculations to come through... rather be out driving

cib24

732 posts

94 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
What kind of rust is forming underneath already?

Hafod

39 posts

45 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all

On power/weight I found a really sweet spot with my old Audi S4 Quattro 200hp/tonne and 250 ft lbs a tonne nice for the road. My new Octavia VRS with 140bhp tonne and 190 ft lbs tonne is not quiet enough. 400hp & ft lbs per tonne on my track-day Audi is great but too much for the road.

I can see why the Golf R's are going down so well, just a nice amount for every day.

Howrare

164 posts

147 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
After 3 NA's over the years I really miss having an MX5 on the drive. I've got to convince the OH that her Clio that is up for change needs replacing with one of these. Delivery miles 1.5 SE+ on AT for under 16K!! I'd buy one and keep it.

Edited by Howrare on Friday 5th April 13:37

LG9k

179 posts

163 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
"...vain."?

Such a shame Honda doesn't make something similar with a vtec motor...

LG9k

179 posts

163 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
LG9k said:
"...vain."?

Such a shame Honda doesn't make something similar but with vtec.

uncler

29 posts

126 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
aka_kerrly said:
Nice little read.

This MX5 shares a similar power to weight ratio to the 80s hot hatches that provide (in my opinion) a great balance of fast enough for thrills without feeling that every time you mash the throttle for more than a few seconds you are into >100mph ban territory even if it does mean that once in every umpteen journeys someone in a diesel family car will get in your way & you wish you had an extra 100Hp.
100% agree; I used to drive the 80's hot hatches when I first learnt to drive back in the very early 00's; they were great fun and plenty fast enough with that relatively modest power to weight ratio. My daily is now a Mazda 3 165ps which has a similar power/weight as this MX5; pretty good fun despite its lack of outright grunt.

Would definitely go for this spec MX5 if I was in the market; lower powered cars are underrated!

sr.guiri

286 posts

30 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
My type of car. But not with a folding roof.

It's a shame that it will be bought my mainly overweight red faced men wearing baseball caps, and having the roof down ALL THE TIME.

laugh






offshoreeddy

289 posts

82 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
I run a slightly battered 2006 MX5 2.0 as my 'hack', and it creates just as many smiles as the F430 and F360 that went before it, but with zero headaches, zero worries about horrific repair bills (although thankfully I was spared any of those), car damage, pothole damage, and anything else. Running costs of under £500 in the two years I've owned it, cheap insurance, and if I stick it in a ditch being a tw@t, it's not the end of the world. Chances of me updating it to this newer model are, I would say, quite high.

Kolbenkopp

1,654 posts

92 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Gandahar said:
As people get cars ever bigger size and weight wise I am sure this Lotus ethos for the MX5 will get more people buying it, taking the red pill rather than the blue pill. The success of the Alpine A110 shows people are still not totally besotted with bhp and acceleration times.
I think that very slowly customers start to understand. Probably not via reflection, but more by being exposed to light weight cars. Manufacturers are finally forced to tackle weight as other options for CO2 reduction are even more expensive. So customers rediscover the virtuous circle of weight saving because everyday cars like the e.g. MX5, Mazda 2, Up, Triplets etc are back to around or even under a ton.

Regarding the ND MX5 and light weight sports cars in general -- I think that's the only mainstream ICE kit that is going to stay relevant. The rest will move to electric sooner than anticipated. Power/weight is not everything, there is a real benefit of light weight independent of engine power and you can't do light weight with current batteries.

I think our next garage will be MX5 + Swift Sport (+ something silly if budget allows) and will stay that way for a while.


Kolbenkopp

1,654 posts

92 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
sr.guiri said:
My type of car. But not with a folding roof. It's a shame that it will be bought my mainly overweight red faced men wearing baseball caps, and having the roof down ALL THE TIME. laugh
Would also love a real coupé based on it. Don't have a baseball cap but other than that spot on smile.

sr.guiri

286 posts

30 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
Kolbenkopp said:
Would also love a real coupé based on it. Don't have a baseball cap but other than that spot on smile.
laugh

I once owned a Fiat 124 Sport Spider - an original. Fantastic car. A mate took a photo of me in it once with the roof down - what an idiot I looked - he bloody published it on Facebook too smile

I sold it not long after that. Don't understand the UK fascination with convertibles, especially considering the st weather. Why look a dick when you don't have to laugh

Rawwr

21,957 posts

175 months

Friday 5th April
quotequote all
sr.guiri said:
laugh

I once owned a Fiat 124 Sport Spider - an original. Fantastic car. A mate took a photo of me in it once with the roof down - what an idiot I looked - he bloody published it on Facebook too smile

I sold it not long after that. Don't understand the UK fascination with convertibles, especially considering the st weather. Why look a dick when you don't have to laugh
I mean, there's a strong chance you look like a dick whatever car you're in; we simply don't have all the necessary facts.

If being perceived as a dick by people like you is the price of having fun in an MX5, it's the bargain of the century.