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2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Tuned By Tufnel

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2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Front Quarter Wide AngleTake a superb take a look at the photos all through these digital pages. A very good look. In the event you haven’t been obsessively studying concerning the refreshed-for-2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata, you’re little question puzzled by the “First Drive” tag within the title.

Certainly, Mazda didn’t change something visually vital on this, the fourth mannequin yr of the fourth era of the legendary Miata. From the surface, the one actual clue is the looks of a gash within the rear bumper for a rear-view digital camera. However underneath the hood, it turns into clear that Mazda engineers channeled the storied fictional guitarist in turning the already wonderful Miata to eleven.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White profile

The large change to the 2019 MX-5 Miata is certainly the 4 cylinder engine, which now produces 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at four,000 rpm — up 26 horsepower and three lb-ft over the 2018 engine. The additional energy is a little more helpful, because the 2019 car is rather more versatile in decrease gears. The redline is up seven hundred rpm to a most of seven,500. This most happens throughout aggressive driving in low gear — say, when monitor driving. In any other case, the redline is up four hundred rpm to 7,200.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White front

Disclosure: Mazda flew me to San Diego, the place journalists spent two days driving north amongst roads of our selecting. Mazda additionally fed us. Mazda additionally provided a branded moveable cell-telephone charger, which sadly I had to make use of. Extra on that anon.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Rear

To the delight of armchair lovers and hardcore autocrossers alike, the 2019 MX-5 matches that greater redline with unchanged gear ratios, permitting the brand new car to strategy the magic 60 mph quantity in second gear. My testing (utilizing the TrackAddict app on my Android telephone, which is a minimum of repeatable however to not-the-millisecond correct) exhibits the 2019 reaching sixty two mph earlier than hitting the rev limiter in 2nd gear, whereas the 2018 — utilizing the identical testing technique on a car from an area supplier — solely managed fifty three mph on the limiter. That’s a big distinction that ought to drop the revealed zero-60 occasions, as one much less shift could also be required.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White shifter detail

That unchanged gearbox, in line with Dave Coleman (Mazda’s supervisor of vehicle dynamics engineering) was tuned in Japan for the excessive-revving 1.5 liter engine bought in the remainder of the world. The 2016-2018 two-liter was saddled with the identical gearing. In creating the 2019 two-liter, Mazda made various incremental enhancements to extend effectivity and energy.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White interior

The throttle physique is 5mm bigger than earlier than and makes use of a 2mm smaller shaft, which will increase the move area by 28 %. The consumption and exhaust ports are bigger, as are the valves. The exhaust cam has a better raise and longer period, permitting the exhaust cost to exit the cylinder extra shortly and utterly, paired with bigger main and secondary exhaust manifold tubes.

Past that, Mazda lightened the pistons and connecting rods — the bolts for the connecting rods use a stronger materials that permits a smaller diameter bolt, and a shorter skirt on the piston reduces floor area and thus friction. forty grams of weight financial savings on the rods, and 27 grams on the piston doesn’t sound vital, however these rotating plenty can considerably have an effect on rotating velocity of the engine. A stiffer crankshaft helps clean vibrations on the larger RPMs this engine sees.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White front quarter

Additional, the direct fuel injection system runs at a better strain, permitting shorter fuel injection “occasions” extra often. The upper strain permits for higher fuel atomization within the combustion chamber, which mixes with a 3-stage injection course of that creates a extra constant air/fuel combination all through the chamber, with a richer combination proper by the spark plug.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Front

Mazda did add a complete of seven kilos to the general weight of the 2019 MX-5 over the 2018 mannequin, and nearly all of this weight improve lies within the twin-mass flywheel. The heavier flywheel looks like it will be counterproductive with a better-revving engine, however the majority of that mass is concentrated on the middle of the flywheel, once more lessening vibration despatched by means of the drivetrain.

In my testing, the brand new engine does really feel a contact smoother, and but felt simply as prepared to run up the tachometer because the previous engine. Plus, that additional headroom earlier than the rev limiter is extremely pleasurable, with a stunning sound because the engine sings over 6000 rpm. Mazda says the exhaust is re-tuned for a deeper tone over final yr — I’d want extra time again-to-again with the 2 automobiles to agree, as I assumed the 2018 sounded marvelous as nicely.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White rear

One different vital change that added a little bit of weight? A telescoping steering wheel. Sure, the Miata lastly provides a feature that has been standard in so many automobiles for many years. The brand new telescoping column provides a whopping 203 grams of weight, however the capability to convey that steering wheel in the direction of me a bit makes an enormous distinction in driving consolation, as I can slouch within the seat barely with out rubbing my thighs on the wheel.

In my very own 1991 Miata, I’ve resorted to putting in a smaller aftermarket steering wheel, in addition to carving foam out of the seat to realize clearance. Such drastic measures are not wanted.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Recaro Seats

Mazda continues with three basic trim ranges for the roadster: basic Sport, the game-targeted Membership, and the plush (for a Miata) GT. The RF eschews the Sport trim, sporting solely the Membership or GT packages. Like earlier years, the Membership trim may be had with both a BBS/Brembo package deal — clearly with the stunning BBS wheels and Brembo brake calipers — or a BBS/Brembo/Recaro package deal, including the sporty Recaro seats. Nevertheless, Mazda has acknowledged that some drivers might want the lux bits on the GT with the game suspension and restricted-slip differential from the Membership trim. This yr, the GT-S package deal marries the 2, including the game suspension — together with Bilstein shocks, the LSD, and a shock tower brace. Additional on the RF mannequin with the GT-S package deal, the roof panel is painted black.

I’ll admit, I cursed Mazda briefly throughout our drive for a choice made by many automakers: the elimination of the on-board spare tire. Whereas tire high quality has certainly improved to the purpose the place flat tires are uncommon, they do nonetheless occur, particularly when low-profile tires meet giant stones simply previous the apex of a blind nook someplace past cell-telephone range on the principally-abandoned Angeles Crest Freeway far west of the Metropolis of Angels.

For the document, I wasn’t driving when the rock popped the proper entrance tire.

Nevertheless, we have been stunned to seek out that Mazda has taken yet one more alternative to attenuate mass. As our rescuers arrived with a brand new wheel and tire, we discovered that even the lug nuts have been decreased in size — and thus weight — by shifting from a 21mm hex to 17mm. Sadly, our roadside help solely had a 21mm socket. Off to a ironmongery shop.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Front Quarter

Whereas I’m rolling on the grievance practice, let it’s recognized that the redesigned cupholders nonetheless suck. The attachment factors are redesigned to make shifting the cupholders easier, however they lack adequate depth to maintain bigger cups or bottles from flopping over.

The places are unchanged — a pair of cupholders between the seatbacks close to the occupant’s armpits, and one proper the place a passenger’s left knee may need to reside. However, as Coleman notes, “Let’s get our priorities straight — it’s a sports activities car.” Shifter place is rather more necessary than the occasional Massive Gulp.

One concern lies with the retractable fastback “RF” trim, and solely actually applies to these of us taller than common. I discover that the onerous C-pillar clearly provides extra of a blind spot throughout lane modifications to the left — one which I can’t mitigate with the mirror. My typical transfer when coping with such a lane change is to bodily lean ahead, shifting my view of visitors a bit within the mirror. Sadly, once I tried this within the MX-5 RF, I thwacked my temple on the A-pillar.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White gauges

It’s not like I’ve by no means hit my head earlier than.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White offside front quarter

However the onerous roof does legitimately restrict the pliability discovered within the delicate prime, which means I completely can’t drive the RF with the highest raised. I’m 6’four”, with an extended higher physique, so drivers beneath 6’2” or so would probably be superb within the RF. I’d have to stay with the standard roadster.

The 2 automobiles I drove have been the Soul Pink roadster in Membership trim fitted with the Brembo/BBS/Recaro package deal, and the Arctic White RF within the new GT-S trim. For the spotters, the GT-S package deal can simply be distinguished on an RF by the presence of the good-looking, hand-painted black roof panel. In any other case, the one cue is underneath the car, because the GT-S wears the yellow Bilstein shocks additionally discovered on the Membership trim.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White rear quarter

Apparently, although each automobiles I sampled have been fitted with the game suspension package deal, there’s a clear distinction between the RF and the roadster in street manners. Whereas each are competent and compliant in spirited driving, I famous a bit extra harshness within the roadster whereas cruising on the interstate. A contact of cowl shake was additionally observed on the roadster, however not on the fastback. When pressed, Mazda engineers clarified that spring charges and suspension tuning do range between the 2 physique types — in any case, the RF carries a bit over one hundred kilos greater than the tender prime.

In any other case, the automobiles drive brilliantly. The added flexibility given by the added low-range torque and better redline meant I might stay in third gear within the canyons — roads that I’m positive would require extra shifting within the earlier car. Additional, whereas on these senseless interstates, I didn’t have to shift as typically when encountering slight grade modifications. Dropping to fifth was nonetheless wanted to cross the ever present 5-underneath-the-restrict hybrids clogging the center lanes, however in any other case the Miata makes a superb commuter.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata Soul Red Profile

Whereas hitting these canyons, nevertheless, I discovered myself turning round and searching the identical apexes time and again. The convenience at which the MX-5 could be positioned in corners makes each flip a pleasure. The shifter stays the best I’ve ever encountered, with simply sufficient notchiness to make sure you’ve grabbed the correct ratio, and brief, fast throws permitting the enjoyable to renew promptly.

The seats are fairly snug — I liked the drivers’ perch within the Recaro-outfitted Membership roadster. Nevertheless, although the Recaro bolsters are a bit decrease on the passenger aspect, I most popular the standard leather-based seats fitted to my RF tester once I was driving. The even-decrease cushions made negotiating the hump the place my left size thirteen may go a bit much less taxing than on the Recaros.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White marque badge detail

I’m rising to understand Mazda’s infotainment system extra. Whereas I’m nonetheless not a fan of the knob interface — a extra responsive touchscreen is a little more intuitive to me — it labored flawlessly, giving clear instructions as we tried to get misplaced within the hills. Sound high quality via the headrest-mounted audio system was fairly good, as properly.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White seats

Yeah, I’m somewhat biased towards Mazda’s plucky roadster. I’ve owned three of them over the previous 15 years. However, actually, how can somebody who enjoys driving not benefit from the MX-5 Miata? It’s the essence of a sports activities car — very almost the naked minimal one must get from right here to there, distilled for max pleasure.

Mazda’s achieved one thing exceptional with the 2019 car: it took an almost good car, and amplified it.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White model badge detail

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

– 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Tuned By Tufnel –

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