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's 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.