Mazda MX-5 2021 Review
When you think about it, Malaysians don’t really have many options for sports cars short of ultra-high end marques from Germany or Italy – which is why when the Mazda MX-5 is offered locally through official channels it’s something to take note of. More important than that is the fact that it is offered with both manual and automatic variants, showing that the enthusiasts are being considered as well.
Generationally, the Mazda MX-5 you see here today is the fourth generation model – also known as the ND. More specifically, the model has gone through a mid-life facelift, so it would be known as the ND2. Throughout the years and generations, Mazda has sought to stay true to the MX-5’s roots, and this fourth generation model is regarded as a perfect expression of the concepts which made the original MX-5 so popular.
What exactly are these concepts? Being a light-weight, convertible, front-engine, rear-wheel drive machine. It sounds simple enough, but let’s talk about each of these elements. Keeping a car light-weight while also ensuring it meets modern crash safety standards and packs the features necessary to appeal to your modern consumer is no simple task.
And yet, Mazda managed to make this generation even lighter than its predecessor. The convertible element is also executed in two ways – either as a soft top or a targa-esque top. For the Malaysian market, we only get that targa-top type model, known as the MX-5 RF. It sports a mechanical hardtop that folds its centre section away when you want to see more open air.
The front-engine part is a tricky element, because Mazda hasn’t had potent performance engines that deliver the necessary characteristics for a while. While the pre-facelift model featured a relatively simple, lacklustre powerplant, the facelift saw improvements that really brought its competitive edge out.
Keeping the car rear-wheel drive was important to deliver on the dynamics and balance, as well as the outright experience that driving an MX-5 should deliver. Mazda’s belief that the driver and car should be in sync, in harmony, is expressed well here with driving dynamics that deliver excitement without being intimidating or difficult to approach for the less experienced.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Specifications
There is but a singular engine variant on offer for the two variants of the Mazda MX-5 on sale, and it is a 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G unit that is similar to the one found in the Mazda 2 or Mazda 6. As mentioned earlier, this facelift model saw the engine tuned and fettled to deliver a more potent performance, singing to a higher redline and with more furor and enthusiasm.
The result is a healthy 181 hp and 205 Nm of torque, with a redline of 7,500 rpm. These figures aren’t mind blowing by modern performance car standards – Honda’s most potent K20A 2.0-litre engine made over 200 hp from the same displacement with plenty of headroom – but the engine performs admirably and reliably, with a broad torque curve that makes it easy to handle and drive.
Sitting on the back of this engine is either a manual transmission or an automatic transmission, both possessing six forward gears. Everything else is identical – a double wishbone front suspension design to provide impeccable wheel control and steering precision, with a multi-link rear end to balance packaging and outright handling. An electric power assisted steering system has been calibrated to deliver all the feedback you need, eliminating the noise that can’t be taken away by bushings in the suspension system.
Dimensionally the MX-5 is a compact car, even by historical standards. The wheelbase is a scarce 2,310 mm, with a length of 3,915 mm, width of 1,735 mm, and a height of 1,235 mm. Despite having roadster proportions, that makes it just slightly longer than the Perodua Myvi (20 mm or so), for the same width, while being a good 280 mm shorter.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Exterior
Between the two variants of the Mazda MX-5, pretty much everything is identical. The front headlights, daytime running lights, and rear combination taillights are LED units. The rear fog lights and reverse lights are simple bulb elements, the door pillar garnish is piano black with body coloured door handles, the antennae are straight and tall in design, and that elegant retractable fastback roof is of the same design for both variants. At each corner sits 17-inch alloy wheels, wrapped in 205/45 R17 tyres.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Interior
Bare bones are part of the Mazda MX-5’s ethos in order to keep weight down, which means manual seats, but they are finished in leather with perforation. There is silver-stitched interior trim, as well as a simple but functional dashboard design that keeps everything within arms reach – but that’s not saying much for such a small car. The steering wheel and shift knob are also trimmed in leather.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Safety Features
Despite being one of Mazda’s pricier products in Malaysia, the Mazda MX-5 doesn’t come with the most comprehensive suite of safety systems – but it comes with enough, and the most that you could realistically expect from a sports car. It still has city-level autonomous braking systems as well as lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert, but it doesn’t have items like autonomous cruise control with low-speed follow.
Other items on the safety list include airbags for both front occupants, as well as ABS with emergency brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, electronic traction control and dynamic stability control, as well as hill launch assist. Ultimately the strongest safety element of a convertible has to be in the chassis and body itself, to keep occupants out of harms way even with the roof down.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Strengths & Weakness
Drop-top motoring in this day and age is a rare pleasure that drivers can indulge in, and to have one at a price point under half a million ringgit is something to celebrate. But beyond the value for money proposition, the Mazda MX-5 is truly a car that delivers pure driving pleasure, and looks great while doing it. There’s nothing shouty or overstated about the way it does this, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t agreeable with this compact roadster’s charming looks.
Keeping those proportions compact have resulted in some less than practical elements, which is why there is a distinction between a convertible grand tourer, and a convertible roadster. You can’t fit luggage for two in a Mazda MX-5, nor can you fit much within the cabin itself. Where the cabin wraps tightly around the occupants, it also inevitably leads to a cramped feeling that doesn’t exactly go away even with the roof down.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Price
Pricing for the Mazda MX-5 is quite nearly identical for both transmission choices. The cheaper of the two is the Mazda MX-5 RF NF9C RAD as it’s known, with its manual transmission, going for RM 258,591.00. The Mazda MX-5 RF NF9D RAF is the corresponding automatic variant, going for RM 260,527.00. Both prices include five years of free maintenance inclusive of labour, parts, and lubricants, as well as a five year warranty.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Features
In terms of features, Mazda MX-5 owners get keyless entry and start, a 4.6-inch colour TFT LCD multi info display for the instrument cluster, single-zone automatic climate control, and one-touch up and down power windows on both sides. There’s the MZD Connect infotainment system that sits front and centre on the dashboard with Apple CarPlay (wireless) and Android Auto functionality, which is 7-inches in size and touch-screen operatable when at a stop.
Mazda MX-5 2021 Fuel Consumption
The manufacturer quoted fuel consumption for the Mazda MX-5 in Malaysia varies depending on the transmission you choose. For the automatic variant, the figure is 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, or 14.9 kilometres per litre of fuel. The manual variant does ever so slightly worse at 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres, or 14.7 kilometres per litre. Being naturally aspirated in either case, the figure shouldn’t change wildly unless you drive especially spiritedly.
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- Body Type: Convertible
- Transmission: Automatic/Manual
- Engine Capacity: 1998 cc - 2000 cc
- Fuel Type: petrol
- Seat Capacity: 2
- Price: RM 259,154 - RM 260,354
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