Mazda listened to its customers and has delivered a revised and better version of the current MX-5 code named the ND Series 2.
Complaints about maximum engine speed (redline) being too low and not enough power on the Series I resulted in a range of mild upgrades on the new version.
It’s now rated at 135kW and 205Nm (up from 118kW and 200Nm) but revs to 7500rpm whereas the cut out before was 6800.
What this means is a more track ready car that theoretically requires fewer gear changes for any given circuit … for quicker times, assisted by a better drive feel and improved dynamics.
Other subtle changes actually make the ND Series 2 a better road car with a less nervous ride than before and more supple suspension that soaks up the bumps. It turns quicker and has better throttle response.
Mazda went right through the car making incremental improvements to the engine, transmission, suspension, exhaust and note, NVH suppression and even driving position with rake and reach steering adjustment.
More info is provided to the driver and it’s safer with lane departure warning, smart city brake and traffic sign recognition.
I got to drive the ND 2 extensively in Tassie on their winding Targa roads and included two track stints at Baskerville and Symmons Plains circuits.
What a hoot.
Not much has changed here over the ND 1 apart from a longer aerial, smaller 17mm wheel nuts, the LED headlights (on GT) and a stunning new red colour.
It retains the angry ant frontal look, coke bottle side profile and stubby, almost Italian sports car tail treatment.
The effect is pleasing to the eye from every angle accentuated by the unmistakeable rear-wheel- drive stance that “bum dragging” hot hatches simply can’t match.
Inside the GT driven is leather clad with a cockpit style dash containing some revised instruments providing more info than the ND 1. Thankfully, Mazda engineered rake and reach steering adjustment into this model but room is still at a premium. The boot is small and useable and there are storage bins behind the two seats. A large, app driven centre control screen is operated by touch or a large dial on the console.
The look is classy and the layout is perfect for a compact two seat sports car like the Mazda MX-5.
Wouldn’t go the beige seats though, they get dirty too easily. Love the Bose audio with headrest mounted speakers.
The MX-5 GT gets plenty of kit including climate control, satnav, smart phone streaming, Bose audio and heated seats with leather upholstery but the new ND 2 stuff is possibly of more interest here.
- Stronger engine mounts and comprehensive engine internals upgrade
- Smaller 17mm wheel nuts
- Larger aerial
- Revised suspension calibration and bushings
- Adaptive auto levelling headlights
- 7500rpm engine redline
- More power and torque
- Improved throttle response
- Rake and reach wheel adjustment
- Enhanced exhaust note
- Tyre Pressure monitor
- Revised sun visors
Drive and Engine
There’s no ignoring the improvements when you put the new ND 2 on the track where it is consistently quicker than its predecessor, by around 1.5 seconds a lap at both Baskerville and Symmons. It’s more planted too offering crisper steering and a supple but controlled ride.
Stiffer engine mounts on the 2.0-litre, direct injection, naturally aspirated four cylinder seem to help the overall taut feel as do the revised dampers and springs. The higher redline makes the ND 2 a better car that runs nicely through each of six gears particularly the intermediates which are closely spaced.
There’s more of a rasp to the exhaust that is only really audible under maximum acceleration.
On the road, the new car is comfortable and rewarding to drive in a GT mode. Even around town it’s fun and quick thanks in part to the increased power but also the light 1035kg weight.
The high tech engine and light weight no doubt contribute to the ND 2’s fuel economy rated at 6.8-litres/100km.
Then, after all of this, you can whip off the roof in a couple of seconds and enjoy top down driving – always a plus in the right environment.
Gets a five star ANCAP rating augmented this time around with Lane Departure Warning and other driver assist technology. All ND 2 models now have a reverse camera but the GT version scores more safety kit.
- It’s a ridgey didge drop top sports car with rear wheel drive
- Exemplary reliability record
- Looks great
- Feature rich
- Upgrade makes it even better
- Totally engaging drive
Not So Good Bits
- Small inside
- Small boot
- Long drop down into seat
- Some technology intrudes on pure sports car feel
Yep, dunno why you’d want a big six or V8 performance “toy” when you can have as much or more fun in the MX-5. Long derided as a “hairdresser’s car” put one out on the track and the detractors will soon clam up.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Mazda MX-5 GT Roadster
- Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder petrol producing 135kW/205Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual
- Warranty: 5/ unlimited km
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $41,960