By Nauman Farooq
If you’ve been reading the “Auto” section of The Weekly Voice regularly for the last decade, you’ll know that I have a special love for the Mazda MX-5. It is a fun, two-seat roadster that neither requires you to remortgage the house to buy one, or break into your savings to keep it running.
On a recent trip to America (which took place before the Coronavirus situation intensified), I got to sample a model trim of the MX-5 that might not be available in Canada by name, but its features are offered in other models – it’s just called something else! The model I’m talking about is the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Club.
I got to spend a week driving this vehicle in Florida, covering large distances. Question is; is it a good road trip companion, or is it a pain?
Let’s find out!
Styling: Visually, the ‘Club” is not much different from any other current MX-5. You get a blacked-out front air dam, black 17-inch alloy wheels – which are covering Brembo brakes – and a black rear spoiler. Minimalist stuff, but the MX-5 doesn’t really need anything to enhance its looks – it is a stunner as it is, and it sure pulls the crowd.
I was surprised by how many positive comments I received regarding this car in Florida – much more than I have ever received in Ontario – guess the southerners know a good car when they see it; even the valet attended at the luxurious Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island praised the car. Just goes to show, the MX-5 has a broad appeal!
Interior: Step inside, and this ‘Club’ model is very much like our GT model. It has heated Recaro seats which are covered in black sport cloth with silver stitching – which you don’t get in the base model – a Bose 9 speaker audio system, and that’s about it! This is a minimalist car, so it doesn’t have a lot of extras. While this model didn’t have automatic climate control, or power seats (not available on any MX-5), or even a power roof, it did have a good infotainment system with the (optional) navigation system – which worked like a charm.
Cabin space is not palatial, but once you’re in, there is plenty of legroom, and those sporty seats are extremely comfortable.
I had covered roughly 1,600 km’s while down in Florida, and these seats never gave me a back ache – you can cover distances in this car, if you’d like.
Powertrain: Under the hood is Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0L four-cylinder motor that produces 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. Power is fed to just the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic is available, too).
Performance & Driving Dynamics: The MX-5 has never been about out and out performance, and the numbers are adequate – not mind blowing!
But numbers were never the point about the MX-5, this car is all about feel, and that still remains true with the current model.So, the moment you toss it into a corner, you’ll feel how light and precise it is on its feet. With a curb weight of around 1,065 kg, the MX-5 is nearly half the weight of a 2020 Ford Mustang GT convertible – so despite having a lot less power than the Mustang, the MX-5 has very nearly the same acceleration numbers (Zero to 100 km/h in about 5.7 seconds), and would be much nicer through the corners.
Speaking of corners, the MX-5 has one of the nicest turn-ins of any vehicle on sale today. You pick the line, and the MX-5 just takes you there – without a fuss! If you like driving on twisty roads, this is the ideal car for you. However, if your route has broken tarmac, the MX-5 is not the ideal car, because when you combine a stiff platform with tight suspension, and low mass, you are going to feel road imperfections.
Solution, find nice roads and learn to exploit its power and torque, because in the right environment, the MX-5 can annoy plenty of muscle cars and supercars.So, as a pure driver’s car, the MX-5 is hard to beat! But, how is it as a touring vehicle?
Well, my wife and I were in Florida for a week, and thankfully, the MX-5 swallowed all our luggage – that trunk is much more spacious than it looks.
Neither of us complained about the seats either, although, both of us -from time to time- did complain about the road and wind noise. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving with the roof up or down, this is a noisy car.
Plus, the engine doesn’t calm down at highway speeds either, so relaxing is not an option with this vehicle. Can you get used to it? Sure, but this car is best suited for short weekend adventures than road tripping.
Fuel Economy: I typically do my own fuel economy test, giving the vehicle a good highway and city driving run. However, on this occasion, I spent most of the time on the highway, so I don’t have a proper figure from this recent test. However, I have tested the MX-5 in the past, and these are very consistent in their economy test, and the number I’ve gotten most often is 7.8 L/100 km. That is really good for a car that is this much fun to drive.
Pricing: In Canada, the 2020 Mazda MX-5 has a base price of $33,100. The MX-5 Club is priced in America from $30,890 (USD) – which at current exchange rate comes to a whopping $44,357. That means, the Canadian spec MX-5 GT (which is the loaded model) is a bargain at just $40,150. It’s good to be in Canada.
Verdict: Mazda got the MX-5 recipe right from the very get go when it launched the model back in 1989. With time, they’ve only improved its flavour, and the end result is a vehicle that is a joy to drive. We are living in very uncertain times at the moment, and hope that the current Coronavirus pandemic will soon become a part of history.
When life goes back to being normal, we will all appreciate the importance of ‘joy’ in our lives, and that is what the MX-5 gives you – pure joy!