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The B’s knees – Mazda MX-5 GT review

Oddly, Idioms hold a huge amount of charm for me, not just the idiom themselves but their backstory too. Take ‘The bee’s knees’ for example. Meaning something is outstandingly good, the origins of this idiom has been traced back to the 1920s when the flappers (the hip people of the time) compared almost anything they considered excellent to a part of an animal, and it’s believed that American cartoonist Tad Dorgan is responsible for this cracker – still not sure why a bee’s knees are good though. However, what is outstandingly good and comes with a host of new B’s, is the new Mazda MX-5 GT.

The origins of the 2-seater Mazda MX-5 sportscar date back to 1989 and although also has the name of Eunos and Miata, the MX-5 has evolved through 4 generations, had the Guinness Book of World Records declare it the best-selling two-seat sports car in history and rolled its 1 millionth unit off the production line as far back as 2016 – being sent around the world for fans to sign (yes I did that).

Anyway, Mazda have recently upped the MX-5 ante and produced a GT version, that’s more powerful, better handling (is that even possible) and better spec’d than ever, and as the Auckland summer rain eased a little, I got to take it for a ride.

I won’t bore you with the basic size and features as you must all know them by now, but rest assured it’s still a front-engined, rear-wheel drive roadster that’s about the same size as my thumb and is great fun to drive – actually it’s better.

Mazda MX-5 GT review NZ

My review model came in the new Platinum Quartz body colour, a break from the Soul Red for sure, but its warm, (I guess you’d call it) creamy hue, really matches the sportscar pop.

Work has been done under the bonnet too, with the GT receiving the more powerful Skyactiv-G 2L engine that normally resides in the retractable ‘hard top’ MX-5 RF. With 135kW and 205Nm on offer, it’s the most responsive MX-5 soft top yet.

Mazda MX-5 GT review NZ

Now onto those B’s. The wheels are stunning BBS 17-inch and their deep gunmetal finish really contrasts well with that Platinum Quartz paint. Behind them sits Brembo brakes, meaning that all that additional power can be stopped when and where necessary. And behind all of that, the suspension dampers are Blistein, meaning that the ride is firm and stoic – just what you want in a 2-seater sports.

On the matter of a stoic drive, the new MX-5 GT features ‘KPC’, Kinematic Posture Control, an all-new technology that’s been developed exclusively for the roadster. It’s essentially a software upgrade (so no additional weight) that applies a slight brake input (around 45psi) to the inner rear wheel during high-g cornering. This pulls down on that corner, suppressing body roll, and making steering response feel more linear through the corners and limits slip. The result is a more confident and therefore more enjoyable ride.

Mazda MX-5 GT review NZ

Adding to the enjoyable ride, last but not least of the B’s belongs to the Bose stereo that gleefully blasts out your favourite tunes (through 9-speakers) for all to hear, especially when jam-packed in Auckland commuter traffic – ahem.

Like I said, overall the weather was not exactly ‘top down; summer compatible, however, when there was a break in the cloud cover I grabbed my sunnies, a cap and headed for the open road.

Dropping the top on the MX-5 GT is the same one-catch system as the others and the resulting uninhibited driving is a feeling that can only really be experienced rather than described. A simple push of the button to spark up that 2L engine and I was away.

Mazda MX-5 GT review NZ

Joy of all joys, my GT came with a 6-speed manual gearbox (better engine, better handling, topless driving and a manual gearbox – sigh) with a light clutch and a tight throw that only required finger length extension. Seriously changing up and down the gears in the MX-5 GT was almost as pleasurable as the drive itself.

The bigger cc’s meant that the compact, lightweight roadster felt more substantial, it’s not a massive improvement but certainly enough to know that it’s better. For example, it has more legs up top and holds the gears for a satisfying amount longer. And on top of that, all the behind the scenes work done with the dampers and KPC meant that just a drop in gear was all that was required for tighter corners before jumping back on the throttle and powering out of the bend, minimal to no body roll and that confident sense of being in full control (even if the Mazda is really doing all the work). In all honesty, I think the only thing that would have made the experience better would have been a throatier exhaust, but then I do enjoy annoying the neighbours.

Mazda MX-5 GT review NZ

Having been behind the wheel of numerous MX-5’s over the years, I have to say that I have found them all to be just an amazing experience, and I wasn’t really aware that any were lacking anything, that is until the GT. The upgraded power and handling has just raised the bar to a whole new level and who would have thought that a better sound system would make such a difference. The previous models were good, but I can tell you for a fact that the new GT really is the B’s knees.

Mazda MX-5 GT review NZ

The MX-5 GT is available from $58,290 and comes with Mazda’s 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5 years Premium Roadside Assistance and 5 years of Genuine Mazda Scheduled Servicing – plus I think they plant 5 trees for every unit sold too.

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