How does a cheaper Mazda MX-5 sound to you?

We explore the idea with Mazda PH boss
by Dinzo Tabamo | Aug 28, 2015
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Mazda MX-5

Those among us who have driven the new Mazda MX-5 are enamored by its alluring design, open-top motoring appeal, and wonderful drive. No matter how you try to use logic and say that it’s impractical, flashy and expensive (only in the sense that you can buy a midsize SUV for the price), the longer you look at it, your reasons just begin to melt away.

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The MX-5 we have in our market does have one minor flaw, though: It’s a little "too powerful." Because of its very light weight thanks to the extensive use of aluminum, it’s quite easy to toss around. A driver must possess a high skill level to master the 158hp 2.0-liter MX-5.

But a question that has been on our minds since we drove this sexy roadster at the Batangas Racing Circuit was this: What if the engine were smaller and less powerful? This might sound like gearhead blasphemy, but there are some who say the 129hp 1.5-liter engine--which is unavailable in our market--is a better match for the nimble chassis.

What tickled our imagination was that if a 1.5-liter MX-5 were to be made available, that would mean it would be at a lower price point. The thought of a Miata a few hundred thousand pesos cheaper was an enticing proposition. The Mazda 2 has a 1.5-liter mill with a lower output, and is roughly the same weight (yeah, we were surprised, too) as the MX-5. Believe us when we say that this subcompact is far from underpowered.

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During our trip this week to Mazda’s hometown of Hiroshima in Japan, we were able to chat with Mazda Philippines president and CEO Steven Tan about the possibility of a more affordable and possibly better-balanced MX-5 with a 1.5-liter engine. Our discussion was interesting, to say the least.

Tan said that while a smaller-displacement mill for the MX-5 would definitely be cheaper, it wouldn’t be significantly more affordable. He estimated that from the P1,680,000 price of the manual Miata, it could only be brought down to about--and this is a rough guess--P1,600,000. He said the price difference between powerplants in the Mazda corporate lineup isn’t that big.

Both of us agreed that to make customers consider going down a variant, the 1.5-liter MX-5 would have to be at least P200,000 cheaper. But to reach that price point, accessories and trim will have to be removed, and that is not a very appealing thought. So in the end, the 2.0-liter engine is still the most feasible choice for our market.

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Photo by Dinzo Tabamo

 

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