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Driven: Mazda lobs power-boosted MX-5 range

Tweaks under the skin add more power and torque to Mazda’s MX-5

14 Sep 2018

MAZDA Australia has introduced running changes to its MX-5 sportscar range that include a power and torque upgrade for both engines, more standard gear and a price increase on all variants.
The Japanese car-maker has removed four variants with the updated MX-5 line-up, with the 1.5-litre Roadster GT and the base 2.0-litre Roadster dropped from the range.
Pricing on all remaining variants has increased by $750 apiece, which followed range-wide increases of between $100 and $1320 back in March this year.
The MX-5 line-up now kicks off from $34,190 before on-road costs for the base 1.5L Roadster with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the 2.0L Roadster GT manual is now $41,960. 
The RF (Retractable Fastback) ranges in price from $39,400 for the 2.0L manual to $46,960 for the 2.0 GT with a black roof.
Opting for the six-speed automatic transmission on any variant adds $2000 to the price.
Mazda says the price increase is offset by the fact that the 1.5L Roadster and the RF GT add $1100 worth of new gear, while the RF adds $1400.
The biggest changes, however, are under the rear-wheel-drive two-door’s bonnet, with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine gaining an additional 17kW of power, to 135kW at 7000rpm, while torque is up by 5Nm, to 205Nm at 4000rpm.
Mazda says it has made a number of revisions to “every area” of the 2.0-litre SkyActiv-G engine, including the addition of a dual-mass flywheel, which Mazda says has resulted in an altered engine note.
Tweaks have also been made to the engine’s control unit to ensure better acceleration response “in almost any driving situation”, and it is now a higher revving unit, with the redline set at 7500rpm, up from 6800rpm.
Mazda says it has added some of the tech from the 2.0-litre unit to the 1.5-litre four-pot that is now only available in base Roadster soft-top guise.
The changes to the smaller engine have made for a slight 1kW/2Nm bump up in power and torque, to 97kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm at 4000rpm.
Mazda has not provided 0-100km/h times, but fuel economy for the 1.5L is 6.2 litres per 100km in manual guise (up 0.1L) and 6.4L/100km for the auto, which is the same as before.
Fuel use in the 2.0L Roadster is down by 0.1L for both the manual (6.8L) and the auto (7.0L), while in the RF it has dropped by 0.1L (6.9L) for the manual and 0.2L (7.2L) for the auto.
No changes have been made to the chassis or the double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension set-up as Mazda made those changes as part of the update that rolled out in March this year.
The company says the 2.0L engine will be the best seller in its first full year on sale, capturing a massive 95 per cent on MX-5 buyers compared with five per cent for the 1.5L.
The full breakdown is five per cent for the base Roadster, 25 per cent for the Roadster GT, seven per cent for the RF and 63 per cent for the RF GT, with 57 per cent of buyers opting for the manual gearbox.
Other changes to the MX-5 include the debut of a reversing camera, as well as the addition of reach adjustment for the steering column – the first time it has been offered in the nameplate’s 29-year history.
The gaps between the detachable cupholders and their mounts have been altered for easier operation, the seat recline levers are now more robust and the door opening and closing has also been improved. It also has redesigned sun visors that are thicker than before.
Mazda has also dropped the 15-inch aluminium wheel covers on the 1.5L Roadster in favour of a black metallic hue, while the 17-inch wheels on the 2.0L RF has changed from gun metallic to black metallic.
The i-Activesense safety tech suite has been upgraded and now features Smart City Brake Support Forward (on Roadster) and Reverse (GT), traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, rear parking sensors (GT) and the aforementioned rearview camera.
Standard gear on the base 1.5L Roadster includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, power mirrors, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, black cloth trim, a 7.0-inch MZD Connect touchscreen display, a six-speaker audio system with DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, blind-spot monitoring, tyre pressure monitoring and a limited-slip differential on manual versions.
The 2.0L Roadster GT adds 17-inch bright-silver alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, body-coloured heated mirrors, black or tan leather trim, heated seats, an auto-diming rearview mirror, a Bose 203W amplifier with nine speakers, keyless entry and lane departure warning.
The 2.0L RF has everything from the 1.5L Roadster but swaps the 16s for 17-inch alloys and adds a body-coloured retractable roof and LED daytime running lights.
On top of this the RF GT adds the option of the black roof ($1000), adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry, body-coloured power heated mirrors, black or tan leather trim with optional Chroma brown Nappa leather, heated seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, the Bose nine-speaker audio system and safety items including the rear parking sensors, driver attention alert, and Smart City Brake Reverse. 
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available yet, but Mazda says they will be rolled out before the end of the year.
Mazda has six colours available including Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Machine Grey Metallic, Snow Flake White Pearl Mica, Ceramic Mica, Eternal Blue Mica and Jet Black Mica.

2018 Mazda MX-5 pricing*

1.5L Roadster $34,190
1.5L Roadster (a) $36,190
2.0L Roadster GT $41,960
2.0L Roadster GT (a) $43,960
2.0L RF $39,400
2.0L RF (a) $41,400
2.0L RF GT $45,960
2.0L RF GT (a) $47,960
2.0L RF GT black roof $46,960
2.0L RF GT black roof (a) $48,960

*Excludes on-road costs

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