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Road test | Mazda MX-5: impressionist figure

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Monet’s work continues to be magnetizing nearly 100 years after his death. There is its amplitude, but also its ability to capture a fleeting moment of everyday life bathed in a lush landscape in all its nuances of lighting and textures. But what’s the connection to a Mazda MX-5, you ask? The roadster has become by force of circumstance a rebellious figure, like the Impressionists were, while cultivating this extreme sensitivity to its environment which forces us to live the whole experience.

Design


PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

The cabin of the 2022 Mazda MX-5 is pushed rearward, placing the driver and passenger virtually above the rear axle.

The sixth generation (ND) of the one previously called Miata nevertheless took its first steps six years ago. However, it is difficult to find any wrinkle in this design which ensures a magnificent timelessness. Barely 3.9 m long, almost 80 cm less than a Toyota Corolla, it still handles the balance of proportions just as well. Respecting the DNA of English roadsters of yesteryear, the bonnet plays the role of centerpiece in this beautiful juxtaposition of curves. The passenger compartment is thus pushed towards the rear, placing the driver and passenger practically above the rear axle. The car can still be primed in two ways: with a soft top, which is operated manually, or a hard top, which lowers electronically under a streamlined structure placed behind the head restraints. One thing is certain, when the metallic red drapes this dress in all its shades, the work remains captivating.

On board


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The interior of the 2022 Mazda MX-5

The watchword here remains weight saving. The passenger compartment reflects this idea with a minimalist approach without lapsing into a rigorous reading of the thing. Admittedly, access is not really easy due to a fairly high door threshold coupled with a small opening and a low seat. When you’re in place, you notice an immense sensitivity to the ergonomics of the driving position. From the positioning of the pedals to that of the gear lever and the steering wheel, everything is placed naturally under the hand… and the feet. However, you have to be less than 6 feet tall to really enjoy the whole thing. Resulting from this hunt for weight and its reduced dimensions, the practical aspect of the two-seater is very reduced. We nevertheless benefit from well-placed cup holders and a glove compartment cut into the back of the cabin, between the two seats. The 130 L hold will suffice for weekend getaways, nothing more.

Under the hood


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The 2.0L four-cylinder in the 2022 Mazda MX-5

Mazda completely overhauled its naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder in 2019. Its power then increased to 181 hp and its torque to 151 lb-ft, using lighter connecting rods and pistons as well as an inlet. magnified look. This completely sharpened the character of this generation from the start, allowing its maximum rotation to be increased to 7500 rpm. With a deep tone that clears up as the revs rise, this mechanism has a magnificent expressiveness and is undoubtedly the missing link to complete the virtuosity of the rear-wheel drive chassis. There’s a crescendo in power output that only a naturally aspirated engine can deliver. This eloquence is complemented by a sublime six-speed manual transmission mated to a low-inertia flywheel. You can therefore continuously adjust the speed to the chosen gear by simply touching the accelerator. The lever with ultra-precise and short guidance completes the paraphernalia with a perfectly adjusted clutch.

Behind the wheel


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The chassis of the 2022 Mazda MX-5 communicates a considerable amount of information to the driver.

The table is therefore set for a beautiful composition. After all these years, this MX-5 is still sparkling, largely due to the 1066 kg displayed on the scale. In an era putting the SUV on a pedestal, this data is almost heretical. The example tested – a GS-P model – also benefits from Bilstein shock absorbers, a strut bar and a limited-slip differential. However, this does not change anything to the fundamental characteristics of its behavior, which emphasizes a flexibility of damping giving rise to marked cash movements. This chassis communicates a considerable amount of information to the driver, rigorously applying the “Jinba Ittai” philosophy which relies on close contact between human and machine. Brembo brakes provide exemplary braking. The only fly in the ointment could be in terms of the slightly distant touch steering, despite its very high precision and basic soundproofing.

Embedded technologies


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The multimedia system of the Mazda MX-5 2022

The analysis of the technological aspect is done in a rather succinct way. Preferring to emphasize the driving experience and ensure its affordability, Mazda has invested less effort here. The MX-5 retains the older generation of the Mazda Connect multimedia system, which has the only real advantage over its successor of having a touch screen. It is controlled again and again by means of a wheel fixed on the central console. Navigation in the menus is simple, but their structure is not always intelligible and the definition of the screen pales in comparison to the more modern options of the competition. Apple CarPlay is obviously integrated and can be docked wirelessly when opting for the GT livery. Android Auto is displayed as standard, without the possibility of a wireless connection. If you’re one of the few who want to benefit from the integrated GPS navigation, it is activated by means of a rather expensive SD card ($475), but is included in the equipment of the GT version.

The verdict


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2022 Mazda MX-5

The Mazda MX-5 remains an important work of the modern automotive landscape. This fundamental aspect is due to its ability to bridge the ages thanks to a romanticism that is gradually lost in our quest for hyperconventional refinement. The roadster is not the latest object that is proudly exhibited, but rather a return to basics that feels good. The fact that it is uncoverable and that the beltline is so low allows you to soak up the light and the scents of hot summer days even more. Admittedly, it goes without saying that the two-seater is limited in its practicality, precisely because of its dimensions, but its starting price ($33,300) and its fuel consumption, which can easily drop below 7 L/100 km make it an almost essential summer vehicle for lovers of the register.

Notebook

The most affordable convertible

At $33,300 as an entry price (not including related costs), this MX-5 is the most affordable convertible currently available, by several thousand dollars.

Its weight put in context

The 1066 kg weight of the soft-top version of this MX-5 is a real tour de force for a modern car. That’s 271 kg less than a convertible Mini Cooper and a whopping 583 kg less than a Ford Mustang EcoBoost convertible.

She turns on a 10 cents (or almost)

The turning radius of barely 9.4 m of this MX-5 makes this vehicle very agile in all possible contexts.

A disarmingly simple roof

While plenty of exotic car builders boast very fast convertible top mechanisms, none can beat this MX-5’s in time. Manually operated, it folds very easily with one hand in a matter of seconds.

Very reasonable maintenance costs

The roadster also relies on very reasonable maintenance costs, as exhibited by the very small tires according to current standards (205/45R17) which greatly lower the costs when replacing them.

Technical sheet

  • Model tested: Mazda MX-5 GS-P
  • Engine: L4 DOHC 2.0L
  • Power: 181 hp at 7000 rpm
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft at 4000 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual (six-speed automatic optional)
  • Engine architecture: Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
  • Consumption (EnerGuide): 8.1 L/100 km (premium gasoline recommended)
  • Price (with options, transport and preparation): $39,262
  • Competitors: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, Ford Mustang Convertible and Mini Cooper Convertible
  • New in 2022? : New “kinematic stability control” system which seeks to better control body movements by means of calculated applications of the brakes.



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