Lewis Kingston
22 October 2013

What is it?

In 2012 Jota, whose work includes preparing MX-5 race cars, revealed its Mazda MX-5 GT concept.

It was designed to be a high-performance MX-5 that retained the car’s core virtues of affordability and capable handling. With Mazda’s approval, 
it’s now available to customers 
and sold independently as the Jota Mazda MX-5 GT, with a warranty and dealer support.

It’s based on the MX-5 Roadster Coupé 2.0i Sport Tech, so it features a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual gearbox that drives the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential. The primary changes that Jota carries out include uprating the suspension, remapping the engine and fitting a sports exhaust system.

Jota claims that its modifications to the Mazda's engine boosts its output to 203bhp and 160lb ft,
 a gain of 45bhp and 21lb ft over the standard MX-5. This is reputed to bring the 0-60mph time down by more than a second, compared to the standard car, to 6.4sec.

What is it like?

As with many tuned naturally aspirated engines, the vast majority of that power feels to be available in only the upper echelons of the rev range. Drive the Jota in a standard way and, barring the extra noise, you’d be hard pushed to notice a vast difference.

If you pin the throttle open past 4000rpm in the lower gears, though, the Jota wakes up and pulls more aggressively than the standard car. It feels quicker, too, thanks to the slightly firmer ride and louder exhaust. Fortunately the MX-5's delightfully short and precise gear shift action is retained, so dropping a few gears to bring the engine speed up when necessary is a quick and easy task.

Downsides to the additional performance are few, barring its relative inaccessibility in general driving. The Mazda's average 36.2mpg economy remains reputedly unchanged, and the rest of the powertrain is more than up to dealing with the additional output.

The only real criticism would be that of the exhaust. It admittedly gives the MX-5 with some much-needed aural zest, but if you've the roof up it resonates uncomfortably in the cabin at idle. 

Jota's uprated suspension is admirable, for it manages that tricky act of improving handling without crippling the ride quality. Truth be told, the Jota rides better than a conventional MX-5 but benefits from reduced roll in corners and a less skittish feel over rough roads.

Otherwise, the Mazda drives much the same - precise and responsive steering, decent brakes, adequate refinement and a necessity to get it over 60mph before it starts feeling interesting.

Inside, the real difference is the addition of heavily bolstered leather Recaro seats, which offer much greater lateral support than the regular items. Besides being more comfortable, they also lend you a more confident and reassured feel in corners. Standard kit is unchanged and includes air-con, heated seats, Bluetooth and cruise control.

Jota's exterior modifications also do a lot to lift the MX-5's visual appeal. Standard Jotas include a carbonfibre rear diffuser (which is claimed to improve aerodynamic performance, although to a probably negligible extent on the road), a centre-exit exhaust, anthracite alloy wheels and a contrasting black roof; the net result makes the MX-5 look a lot more purposeful and interesting.

For an additional cost, customers can also add a carbonfibre rear boot lip spoiler and a carbonfibre front splitter.

Should I buy one?

The real problem with the Jota is its price. At £29,995 it costs thousands more than a Toyota GT86, a Nissan 370Z or an entry-level BMW Z4.

Potential buyers could also consider more evocative and charismatic used alternatives like the Porsche Boxster, a clean 2010 example of which could be bought for around £25k.

Jota's MX-5 is also not different enough to justify its premium. Many would be just as satisfied with the £23k car on which it is based, or a cheaper aftermarket solution.

Those wanting a more individual, capable, interesting and warranted new MX-5 may find a lot to like here, however.

Jota Mazda MX-5 GT

Price £29,995; 0-60mph 6.4sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 36.2mpg (combined); CO2 181g/km; Kerb weight 1248kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1999cc, petrol; Power 203bhp at 7000rpm; Torque 160lb ft at 5200rpm; Gearbox 6-speed manual

Join the debate


Nice Styling Tweaks

1 year 4 weeks ago

The revised styling looks superb and the suspension upgrades sound impressive but as much as a high revving naturally aspirated engine is fun when you're in the mood, I'd prefer a small supercharger to give a broader spread of power.

Will86 wrote: I'd prefer a

1 year 4 weeks ago
Will86 wrote:

I'd prefer a small supercharger to give a broader spread of power.

I like the sound of the upcoming BBR MX5 Turbo- see Autocar videos. +90bhp and +90lb.ft torque running at 0.4bar boost should mean its reliable. Priced about the same as this car I think.

I think if in the market for

1 year 4 weeks ago

I think if in the market for this car would also be looking at a Honda s 2000. 236 bhp vtec motor as standard. A low mileage used car would cost about half this

Please register or login to post a comment.

Our Verdict

Mazda MX-5

The Mazda MX-5 is still great fun, and more grown up

Driven this week

  • 2015 Audi RS Q3 review

    2015 Audi RS Q3 review

    First drive
    18 November 2014

    More of an expensive oddity than a range-topping performance SUV, and an ultimately unsatisfying oddity at that

  • 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed review

    2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed review

    First drive
    18 November 2014

    The fastest luxury saloon in the world is also one of the very best

  • 2015 Fiat 500X review

    2015 Fiat 500X review

    First drive
    17 November 2014

    Decent styling, a well-judged interior and good practicality means Fiat's 500X is a worthy entrant on your compact crossover shortlist

  • 2015 Hyundai i20 review

    2015 Hyundai i20 review

    First drive
    17 November 2014

    The new i20 is a very spacious, well-kitted and keenly priced addition to this competitive segment, but it’s let down by weak engines

  • 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS PDK review

    2014 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS PDK review

    First drive
    14 November 2014

    This sporty 911 Carrera plugs the gap between the standard Carrera S and the hardcore GT3 successfully