What is it?
A faster Mazda MX-5. Something that we’ve been pining for since this baby Jap roadster’s chassis genius became apparent.
Still, there are some urgent questions that need to be addressed. Primarily whether this 200bhp car – which is based on the 2.0-litre car but has substantial upgrades by Jota Sport (the race engineering team responsible for Mazda’s successful racing efforts) - can retain the simple, accessible delights that have made the MX-5 a heroic staple in the enthusiast’s scene for more than two decades.
Key to that will be whether it can avoid sacrificing its supple, forgiving road usability in the process of becoming track day appropriate.
What is it like?
Quite outstanding. Despite being 35mm lower than the standard car – and with “relatively standard dampers” according to Jota - on the 17-inch alloys that our car rode on it was remarkably settled at most speeds over typical b-roads. Vertical damper compression is very firm, which is fairly inevitable given the suspension travel, but there’s remarkably little uncomfortable jarring and thumping. It’s also quite resistant to tramlining and steering kick-back, all of which combines to make the MX-5 GT quite calm thing for unhurried driving in by the standards of most track-biased cars.
The naturally-aspirated motor, which gets new exhaust cams amongst other tweaks to bring it up to more than 200bhp, delivers an addictive, crescendoing climb through the rev range right up until its maximum power output is reached at 6500rpm and on until it brushes the heady 7800rpm redline.
It doesn’t feel stupendously fast on the public road, where it remains entertaining at pretty much any speed, if rather more irreverent than the standard cars given the slightly-too-noisy exhaust. It does feel very rapid when you get it onto a track and can really wring out its full potential, push its decent grip levels and discover the forgiving, entertaining on-the-limit behaviour that exists beyond them.
Mazda has managed to balance all the delicate elements of this car in order to retain its appeal as an everyday car, whilst adding a healthy track-readiness that should appeal to a whole new kind of MX-5 buyer. It occupies a space of its own in the £30k ‘fun thing’ market, somewhere between the Toyota GT86 and the Lotus Elise. It’s certainly laid-back enough that you could live with it daily, but it has a rebellious edge that marks it out as a bit special.
If we have any criticisms it’s that, oddly, the steering in the GT feels as if it should be a little weightier. It’s still very good steering by power-assisted standards, as any Mazda MX-5 has, but for the purposes of the GT there needs to be a little more bite - particularly on turn-in - to really satisfy. Equally, whilst the exhaust is spot on in terms of its comically enraged, bass note, the volume needs to come down a notch at low speeds to avoid being outright anti-social. This is something Mazda promises to do if they do put the concept into production. Which brings us onto our only other criticism…
Should I buy one?
You can’t. Not yet, anyway, because Mazda maintains that it is yet to make a final decision on whether it will go into production. Which is maddening given how good the car is. Still, the company’s decision-makers seem quietly confident that it will see showroom lights. The healthy state of the MX-5 aftermarket tuning scene suggests that there’s demand for a faster model, and if it does ever make it to reality, the £30k that Mazda suggests it will charge seems well positioned against the relevant competition.
It will also be a fitting swansong for the current MX-5, which is due to be replaced in the next couple of years. And for those who think that this faster, stiffer MX-5 is sacrilege and goes against the car’s glorious purpose of simple, accessible dynamics, the standard 1.8- and 2.0-litre cars will remain in the line-up.
Mazda MX-5 GT
Price £30k (est); Top speed 140mph (est);
0-62mph 7.0 (est)
; Economy 35mpg (est)
; CO2 190g/km (est);
Kerb weight 1173kg;
Engine type 1999cc, 4cyl, petrol
; Power 200bhp at 6500rpm;
Torque 144lb ft at 4800rpm;
Gearbox 6spd manual