The Mazda MX-5 has always been known for its performance in the corners more than its straight-line speed. After all, just one look at this tiny two-seater and you’ll be hard-pressed to mistake it for a muscle car, but it’s still fun to toss around nonetheless. And while it feels more at home lapping cones on an autocross course than burning down the lane at your local drag strip, the Mazda MX-5 can still be considered “fast” by some. But just how fast is it?
The Mazda MX-5 is as quick as can be
We had the privilege to spend some time with the 2020 Mazda MX-5 RF and were impressed by just how quick it actually feels on the street. Fortunately, our test car came with a six-speed manual transmission, so feeling every ounce of performance (within reasonable limits) was easy. And while we don’t have any instruments to officially test out the car’s performance, we can at least tell you that getting into traffic with alacrity and getting up hills results in no struggle from the little Mazda.
The 2.0-liter, naturally aspirated engine is really smooth and it sounds great from a stop all the way up to the 7,500 rpm redline. The current version of this engine makes 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque, while the same engine from a couple of years back only made 151 hp. Is this the latest iteration that much quicker than the last? According to Motor Trend, not so much. According to their testing, the 2019 MX-5 with the power bump went from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds, which is only a tenth of a second quicker than the 2016-2018 model.
But just how fast is the Mazda MX-5?
So it’s safe to say that the Mazda MX-5 is quick, but it won’t exactly nail you back in your seat when you stomp on the right pedal. However, it’s really low to the ground and it only weighs around 2,300 pounds, which means that it feels much quicker and faster than it actually is. And as far as it is “fast,” that’s technically relative, but if you must know, it’s top speed is limited to 135 mph.
Sure, it’s not 150 mph or anywhere close to 200, but you can’t expect much from a flyweight roadster that is meant to be more fun and low speed than be driven at the white-knuckle limit on an oval test track. Either way, we think that the Mazda MX-5 is fast enough.
Light is right
OK, we won’t call the Mazda MX-5 slow, either. But one interesting fact is that order to get the car to perform how they wanted, Mazda used a method they called “gram strategy,” in which they removed everything they could out of the car to save weight.
This means that there’s no glovebox, the glass has tiny holes cut out of it where you can’t see, and the transmission housing was even shaved down, rather than ribbed, so that it’s rigid but not heavy. It’s an impressive feat that the automaker accomplished in order to ensure that the best-selling roadster stuck to its agile roots.
It took that amount of weight savings and a 17% increase in power to make the MX-5 perform the way it does today. And while some might not consider it “fast,” it’s definitely quick enough to make just about anyone smile every time they get behind the wheel. We suggest trying it out for yourself if you get the chance.