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Sunday, 28 February 2010

Mazda Roadster RS (MX-5/Miata) pic




Spent some time savoring the dynamics of one of the most fun cars out there, the new Mazda Roadster. The design is very closely linked to the Ibuki concept shown at the Tokyo motor show two years ago and really does succeed in bringing the most successful roadster in the world into the new millennium. The cute looking Roadster has put on a bit of weight, up to 1100 kg, but that is to be expected considering the slightly bigger dimensions. The new 2L engine, which sits far back into the chassis almost all behind the front wheels, kicks out an ok 170 PS.

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Top up
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Out on the road the superbly balanced handling of a lightweight FR car is what impresses the most. The engine however sounds uninspiring at the best of times, it's very unrefined and it almost hurts to hear it rev over 6,000 rpm. I'm sure Mazda could have done a better job of giving the 4-cylinder better characteristics. What really did bug me though was the ridiculous throttle mapping the Roadster had. At first I thought there was something wrong with it, revs would hang on for so long when backing off for a gearchange. Of course it is all thanks to the electronic throttle which makes the accelerator pedal feel it's linked to a PS2 rather than a real engine. This resulted in extremely slow gearchange as you had to wait for rpm to drop to engage the next gear. Avoid doing this and you discover the meaning of driveline-shunt! All in all it is a fun drive but there are a lot of little things like the unprecise gearchance and comical body-roll that really spoil the experience.

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The interior is a very nice place to be in. It looks and feels modern, despite the plasticky feel, to be expected of in this price range, and accommodates tall drivers without a problem. The Bose CD-based audio system is nothing to write home about but it does a good job of diffusing your favorite music around the cabin. On long motorway journeys with the roof up though things get very noisy and it becomes hard to hold speeds higher than 130 km/h. The roof mechanism looks a bit cheap from the inside and if you get caught behind a truck at anything over 100 km/h the roof will vibrate so much it will suck your ear-drums out!

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I was not impressed with the Michelin tyres fitted to the car. They provide ok grip but are a bit scary on the limit. So all in all a good car but could have been so much better.

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