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Hot Mazda MX-5 hits Goodwood

Agent orange: The track-based MX-5 GT Concept boasts 35kW more power than the standard road car.

Mazda presents high-performance MX-5 roadster in the UK with a view to production

Mazda logo26 Jun 2012

By DAVID HASSALL

MAZDA is set to produce a hot track-focused version of its iconic MX-5 sportscar in limited numbers, but the British-modified car may not come to Australia.

Presented as the Mazda MX-5 GT Concept with a view to assessing customer interest, the modified roadster will debut this weekend at the famed Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK.

British race engineering company Jota Sport, which regularly races cars at Le Mans, has squeezed another 35kW from the standard MX-5’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, taking it from 118kW to some 153kW using lessons learned from its UK race program.

The exhaust note has been enhanced by the fitment of a sports exhaust system with a central twin tailpipe.

Jota Sport has retained the standard six-speed manual gearbox.

Suspension has been uprated to improve handling and is adjustable for different track conditions, while aerodynamic assistance is provided by a carbon-fibre front splitter, a rear diffuser and a boot spoiler.

Racing-style Recaro seats have been fitted to hold the occupants against the extra side forces and the interior also features a number of carbon-fibre enhancements that help reduce weight.

22 center imageWith a view to customers looking to buy such a car for track use, the MX-5 GT Concept is equipped with “road slicks” and body-coloured – orange in the case of the concept car – rollover bars behind the seats.

Interestingly, this year’s featured marque at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (28 June to 1 July) is Lotus, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the car that inspired the original MX-5, the Elan.

As part of the celebration, 40 Lotus cars spanning seven decades will compete while 24 models – including Le Mans and Formula One cars – will be auctioned by Bonhams.

Mazda’s stand at Goodwood will feature Jota Sport’s MX-5 GT4 racecar, which accelerates from 0-96km/h in just three seconds and last weekend took third in class at the British GT Championship round at Brands Hatch.

Mazda will also display the familiar Mazda Takeri sedan concept car that points to the forthcoming new-generation Mazda6 mid-sizer.

Mazda UK managing director Jeremy Thomson said the MX-5 GT Concept’s debut at Goodwood will test customer reaction to a high-performance version of the iconic sportscar.

“The MX-5 has been our best-known car for 22 years and with the GT4 and GT Concept on show, we are demonstrating that this car can compete with the more expensive race and performance cars but still remain true to its roots of affordable motoring with a strong focus on the driving experience,” he said.

Although the Goodwood Festival of Speed is primarily an historic racing car event, the MX-5 GT Concept will take to the hillclimb track in the ‘First Glance’ category.

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