What would be better than being handed the keys to a new 2022 Mazda MX-5? Being handed those keys at a race track. Not only did we have the opportunity of taking this little roadster to the street, we also took it out on the 2.8 kilometre, 1.8 mile, Driver Development Track road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, about an hour to the east of Toronto, Ontario.
The Mazda MX-5, AKA Miata, is the best-selling convertible sports car of all time, as officially documented by the Guinness World Records. With more than one million of these pintsized ragtops built, as of 2016, these cars are loved the world over. It’s their lightweight, compact size and fun road handling characteristics that keep enthusiasts coming back for more.
2022 MAZDA MX-5
Powering this 2341 pound drop-top is Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.0-liter naturally aspirated 4 cylinder engine generating 181 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Sprints to 60 mph can be accomplished in under 6 seconds. Our car is equipped with the CAD $4,400 Sport Package which includes red Brembo brakes up front, black 17 inch BBS wheels, and extremely comfortable leather and Alcantara Recaro sport seats. The black rims and Polymetal Grey Metallic paint (CAD $200 option) really added to the MX-5s overall appearance. Once one gets over the fact that this is an incredibly small car, one can focus on just how much fun it is to drive. To put this car’s diminutive dimensions into perspective, the 154.1 inch MX-5 is almost 3 feet shorter than the current generation Ford Mustang (188.3 inches). Park next to a Chevy Suburban (225.7 inches) and you will see that the MX-5 is almost 6 feet shorter. But compact and lightweight is a great place to start when building a sportscar. This fourth generation MX-5 is a great handling car, one of the best. It is fair to say that we were blown away by not only how much fun this is to drive on the race track, but also by how well all of its components work in unison to create a really impressive driving experience.
ON THE TRACK
By comparison, just prior to taking this MX-5 out on the track, we drove the 2022 Toyota GR86. As the owner of the prior generation 86, a Scion FRS, I was impressed by the improvements Toyota has made with the second generation car. Lapping the Driver Development track was a lot of fun. I climbed out of the GR86 and got into the MX-5 expecting it to be less of a performer because it’s a soft-top and not a dedicated performance coupe like the GR86. I was wrong. The 2022 Mazda MX-5 felt better than the GR86 in almost every respect. It felt more premium, even though the base MX-5 (MSRP CAD $33,300) is only $1,810 more than the base GR86 (MSRP CAD $31,490). We really liked the MX-5’s braking, cornering, acceleration and overall handling and driving experience on the track. I don’t know which of the two cars would deliver quicker lap times, but surprisingly, the MX-5 delivered a better overall experience on the track.
The MX-5’s 6 speed manual is an absolute pleasure to use with its short throws and solid feel. Everything about the MX-5’s handling, braking and acceleration put a smile on our face. We have driven MX-5s on the track before but we had forgotten just how much fun they are, lap after lap.
One of the reasons the 2022 MX-5 corners so well is the use of Mazda’s Kinematic Posture Control (KPC). Very subtle brake application occurs to the inner rear wheel during high-g cornering. This helps reduce body roll and makes the car feel that much more planted and predictable. The brakes are applied more aggressively when accelerating through corners, which is enhanced by the limited slip differential.
We appreciated little things like the fact that not only is there an old-school handbrake, not an ebrake button, but it is located on the right side of the shifter, unlike other cars who put it on the left side of the shifter, and kind of in the way. Placement on the right just seems more logical to us.
The 2022 Mazda MX-5 really doesn’t feel like it’s lacking anything on the race track. It is a really well sorted sportscar. It is also one of the best cars to drive on a country road on a sunny day with the top down. On a relatively short and winding race track like this one, the MX-5’s performance attributes are perfectly suited and really shine. Complete Canadian and US pricing and details for the 2022 Mazda MX-5 and MX-5 RF can be found at the Mazda Canada and Mazda USA websites.
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