|The MX-5 goes exactly where you point it, it's predictable and extremely nimble.|
But if you’re like me, you don’t have a dime to spend on a weekend car, when you're witnessing huge amounts of dough being deleted from your bank account each month; after all, the mortgage is more important, and so is the must-be-reliable family car. I’m way behind a lot of you on the weekend car project—I don’t even have a garage.
But if you have the opportunity to do so, what are your plans? Feel like buying a kit car and build it yourself in your spare time? Or buying a classic car that needs a little TLC or restoration? Nah. Too much effort. We’re allergic to effort. Get a new sports car. But which one? The Mazda MX-5 could be a good choice.
Yes, 167 horses are enough
I’ll say it again, you don’t need a V8 engine in a sports car. The MX-5’s 2.0-litre inline-4 produces 167 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque, and that’s enough beans to get its 2,606-lb (1,182-kg) carcass moving to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds at 147 km/h. Not breathtaking, but amusing nonetheless.
Base GX models get a 5-speed manual, but GS and GT versions get 6-speeds. A 6-speed automatic (with paddle shifters on GS/GT) is optional on all models.
Obviously, a small-displacement engine means low fuel consumption numbers. Our MX-5 GS is delivering an average of 8.7 L/100 km, although keep in mind that it requires premium unleaded. It would use up even less fuel if the engine wouldn't be spinning at 3,000 rpm at a steady 100 km/h. On the highway, the car is a little buzzy inside, although the hard top helps to insulate some road noise.
The MX-5 gains instant weekend car status when you hit the countryside blacktop. The car displays eye-popping handling that is easy to master, even if you're not a pro race car driver. The MX-5 goes exactly where you point it, it's predictable and extremely nimble. Fun to drive is an understatement.
|The MX-5’s 2.0-litre inline-4 produces 167 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque.|
New duds for 2009
Like all new Mazda products, the MX-5 gets the giggle treatment with its new corporate smiley face. The revised headlights, taillights, bumpers, side sills and alloy wheels are rather subtle, although our test car's Competition Yellow paint job is anything but. And why not? A yellow Toyota Camry doesn't make sense, but a Mazda MX-5 does and wears it well.
|The MX-5 gets the giggle treatment with its new corporate smiley face.|
The interior also gets some minor tweaks. The sound system has been upgraded and can now read MP3 and WMA files (hooray!), while the bottle holders on the redesigned door panels are less intrusive. The leather trim in the GT model gets a choice of three colours, but I'm glad to drive the GS and its supportive cloth seats.
The Mazda MX-5 starts out at $28,995 for the base GX with manual top. Our mid-level GS with the power-folding hard top lists for $35,790.
With the demise of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadster, the MX-5 doesn't really have any direct competitors. The MINI Cooper Convertible from $29,950 is one worthy rival, while the Ford Mustang and Mitsubishi Eclipse offer droptop versions that fit within the Mazda's price range.
The MX-5 is all about driving pleasure. It's light, nimble and quick on its feet. It's relatively rapid and easily fits in your garage.
For a weekend car, Mazda’s little roadster is tough to beat. Yet I’m well aware that a $35,000 car that is only driven on weekends is hard on just about everyone’s budget. With the power-folding hard top, however, it can arguably be enjoyed year round, seven days a week.
|The Mazda MX-5 starts out at $28,995 for the base GX with manual top.|