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Technical analysis - Archive

17/07/2017
A ROADSTER FOR EVERYONE

Technical analysis mazda mx-5

 

The platform named Skyactiv Chassis benefits from a sophisticated independent suspension system with coil springs and stiff dampers, direct and precise electrically assisted steering with 16 or 17 inch wheels 195 and 205 Mm in width.

Duilio Damiani

Before the MX 5, convertibles were an exclusive segment, reserved for those who loved driving with the wind in their hair. That is until the European debut – back in the 90s – of the small Mazda, the little Japanese roadster inspired by traditional Italian and British convertibles, true icons of Fellini’s “dolce vita” decade. An essential, simple and inexpensive two-seater boasting a sleek yet practical look, the MX-5 reinvents itself after four editions and over one million models made since its first appearance. To the point that, in this latest version the Japanese platform was chosen also by the FCA Group as the basis for its new Fiat 124, preserving Mazda's mechanical parts, reshaping it and designing new interiors.

 

“JUST THE TWO OF US”

That Kodo Design, common to all the current Mazda range, gives the little Japanese roadster a captivating and dynamic style, with a perfect combination of impetuousness, elegance and mechanical balance, strongly desired by Mazda for this model. The sinuous lines recall those 1960 spiders, though elements such as air intakes, side-skirts, large grille and Led headlights (on request), give it a modern and distinct personality that just does not go unnoticed. The silhouette emphasizes the close distance from the ground, and the low seats give a kart-like feel, while the absence of body pillars makes the open roof design particularly pleasing, easily lockable even with a single hand from the passenger seat acting on the canvas top, or electrically on the retractable hard top version (Retractable Fastback).

Great load capacity and internal space cannot be expected from a car of this type, especially in view of the size reduction that took place on the fourth generation of the MX-5, the most compact ever with its 3.91 meters of total length, 1.73 in width and just 1.23 metres in height, with closed roof, with a curb weight standing at around 1,000 kg, 100 kg less than the previous MX-5. It goes without saying that the MX 5’s interior design offers two comfortable ergonomic seats, boasting loudspeakers even in the headrests, but as expected there is little allowance for storage space with just 130 litres in the boot, enough for a briefcase  or little more. Not to mention the spare wheel, a repair kit is all you can carry in the event of an emergency.

The three-level trim includes a 7" multifunctional display with an integrated navigator, black cloth upholstery or leather interior with heated seats, able to connect to the MZD Connect web through a smartphone, digital radio with USB socket and hi-tech Bose sound system, cruise control and manual or automatic air conditioning. The air dampened by the windshield is the only remainder that you are travelling in full freedom.

 

A LITTLE THOROUBREAD

Simple yet sophisticated, the design of the new MX-5 is not simply a restyling but a complete makeover that instils a whole new feel to the Mazda Mx-5. Starting from the dimensions, never so compact before and made possible by a shorter wheelbase, reduced overhangs and meticulous technical refinements as the result of a generous use of materials such as aluminium for many details including hoods and mudguards.

The positioning of the engine, mounted longitudinally in the front but as rearward as possible to have the centre of gravity right in the middle of the car , and a transmission tunnel as we are looking at a rear wheel drive here, contributes to a symmetric weight distribution, equally divided between front and rear so as to guarantee great fun even with the smallest of the two engines, both petrol, a 1.5 litres 131 hp, and a 2 litres 160 hp,  enough to have fun without having to worry too much about running costs. As always the MX-5, makes no claim for pure performance, with acceleration from 0-100 km / h in 8.3 and 7.3 seconds respectively, and top speeds in the region of 204 and 214 km/h, but driving pleasure is guaranteed following Mazda's Jinba Ittai philosophy, a symbiotic relationship as an extension of one's body, which means manoeuvrability, honest and predictable responses even at a lively pace. Both engines can be combined to a manual or automatic six-speed transmission and a self-locking rear differential. No need to panic if you occasionally exaggerate with the gas pedal, here is where the i-Activsense dynamic electronic control system steps in (not immediately though not to soften that deliberately sharp behaviour) with a complete kit of Abs, Ebd, Tcs, Dsc, and everything needed to re-align, stop, correct, and prevent the MX-5 from skidding further.

The platform named Skyactiv Chassis benefits from a sophisticated independent suspension system with stiff coil springs and Bilstein dampers, direct and precise electrically assisted steering with 16 or 17 inch wheels not particularly exaggerated in size (195 and 205 mm), and much in line with the driving pleasure the mechanical layout promises.

The low price range when compared to most other roadsters should not mislead: the MX-5 is a genuine rear-wheel drive sports car with a vocation for fun, much like some of the most famous (and costly) roadsters. A balanced weight distribution, a weight / power ratio close to 6.3hp/kg and a lower centre of gravity, makes driving it extremely enjoyable, gentle when needed, as in urban traffic, thanks to the non-exaggerated power-units, but snappy as soon as the gas pedal is pusher to the floor. Which happens to be the best formula to make a small dream of youth come true.

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