If you have never driven a Mazda MX-5, you’re probably missing out on a lot. Highly regarded as one of the most well-built sports cars to drive, the drop-top roadster combines no-frills fun with every day practicality.
But Mazda is not resting on their laurels as they recently gave the roadster more power under the hood, and then some. Say hello to the Club Edition; not only does it have a beefier engine, but it also gets additional goodies which make it more exhilarating to drive.
But does having more power really equate to a more satisfying drive? Are the new add-ons really worth it? And, more importantly, is its price tag of nearly Php 2.7 million justifiable for those looking at the complete package?
See anything different? Well if you have a hard time finding the differences don't worry, so did we. Instead of giving the MX-5 RF a drastic makeover, Mazda stuck with the familiar, eye-catching design and just added a few extras here and there. Because why not? The fourth-gen MX-5, despite already being 3 years old, is still a looker from every direction.
From the stunning new Soul Red Crystal paintjob, to its flowing and more aggressive Kodo design, the MX-5 still has all the right curves in all the right places. But like what I said earlier, this new Club Edition comes with more standard kit. Take for example its black retractable roof. Paired with the mesmerizing paint that this particular unit came draped in, it provides a stark contrast against the brightly-colored exterior. But what I really liked on the Club Edition are the 17-inch BBS alloy wheels which make the MX-5 stand out more.
Hop inside the roadster and everything looks and feels familiar. Like the RF I got to review months ago, the Club Edition keeps the simple and sporty design as before. It even still comes with the MZD Connect infotainment system, by far one of my most favorite in-car systems to tinker with. It supports AM/FM radio, USB, Aux, as well as Bluetooth. Should you still fancy playing CDs / DVDs, the MX-5 comes with a DVD player mounted mounted near the center glovebox, just between the seats.
What’s new, however, are the Recaro seats. Offering better bolstering than the standard leather issues, these bucket-style seats have more shoulder and side support, perfect for when you’re busy carving mountain roads. They even come with integrated speakers which are part of the 9-speaker Bose sound system.
Also, I’m glad to report that the refreshed MX-5 now comes with a telescopic steering rack. That’s right, the MX-5’s steering wheel can now be adjusted for height, as well as for reach. Drivers with short arms will not be found wanting anymore in the updated drop-top.
Under the hood is a more powerful 2.0-liter SkyActiv-G powerplant that pushes out 184 PS at 7000 rpm and 205 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. That's right, Mazda was busy tinkering with the engine and they were able to squeeze out 24 more horsepower and an additional 5 Nm of pulling power. Sure some might say the power upgrade may not sound like much, but on a lightweight drop-top like the MX-5, every little bit of horsepower and torque helps.
So is there any real difference with having a more powerful engine than before? The answer: it's like night and day. With over 180 horses available on tap, the MX-5 now has more get-up and go. Bury your foot on the accelerator and the drop-top just zooms through open roads. Owners and enthusiasts that have always wanted a bit more pep and mid-range pulling power from the roadster will surely appreciate what Mazda did. Besides rewarding you with more power, the MX-5 still comes with a satisfying rumble from the exhaust.
The slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission also complemented the more powerful 2.0-liter mill. The self-shifting gearbox keeps the engine within the optimal powerband for when you’re driving on the limit. It even comes with Sport Mode which makes the revs sharper and linger more at higher revs. If past automatic MX-5s disappointed drivers, the new SkyActiv-built automatic transmission is a completely different animal. Did I mention it also comes with manual select which you can manipulate via the paddle shifters?
When you’re finished driving spiritedly in the Miata…err I mean MX-5, it feels like an every day runaround albeit lower and a bit noisier. It’s docile and not a handful to drive around town and in tight city streets. Perhaps the only trouble you’ll have with the MX-5 is looking out for steep curbs and ramps.
Since the roadster received a boost in power, its fuel economy surely took a hit right? I’m happy to report that that is not the case. Take it for a stroll around light city traffic and you can expect it to return between 9.5 - 10.5 km/l. Out on the highway, it delivered better fuel economy as it can easily average between 15.0 - 16.0 km/l. Props to Mazda for making the MX-5 fuel efficient despite its fun-to-drive nature. It even comes with i-E Loop regenerative braking and i-Stop engine start/stop system which can help drivers save more fuel.
As always, the MX-5 performed magnificently through the twisties. Whether you’re attacking mountain roads, or taking sharp corners along coastal roads, the MX-5 will not disappoint. Turn the wheel in and there is no delay whatsoever, further cementing its place as one of the best handling cars on the road today. It loves to hug tight bends which gave me confidence when exiting out of corners at speed. Equally impressive on the MX-5 is its electronically-assisted power steering. Despite being boosted, the steering feels mechanical and has weight to it like a traditional hydraulic system.
As far as riding comfort is concerned, the MX-5 Club Edition delivered a somewhat acceptable ride. It’s neither too stiff or too soft which I really liked. In addition, I also liked the fact that the MX-5 can go over speed bumps with no trouble at all. To think that most sports cars get a bad reputation for scraping.
Selling for a cool Php 2,680,000 (not including the Php 22,400 Soul Red Crystal paint), it could be said that the top-of-the-line MX-5 Club Edition in automatic trim is quite the investment. Perhaps one might think that getting a standard RF and then getting all the Club Edition extras will be the better alternative.
But with the Recaro seats selling for Php 250,000 a pop, and each BBS alloy wheel retailing for Php 80,000, getting a standard RF then getting the other extra kit results in an MX-5 going over the Php 3 million mark. If you want the additional Bilstein shocks (which are only available on manual models), prepare to shell out Php 15,000 each. This somewhat makes the standard Club Edition A/T more economical in terms of price.
If you’re looking at getting an MX-5 with all the kit and caboodle much like a GT car, the Club Edition can provide you with all that while still being nimble, small and quick. Yes it is more expensive than the manual / automatic RFs by as much as Php 300,000, but if you can look past that, the Club Edition will reward you with plenty of smiles per gallon. I know I was.