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2015 Mazda MX-5 Never Gets Old>

Driving the 2015 Mazda MX-5 never gets old. The model’s been around since 1989 in various iterations and will be reconfigured for the 2016 selling season; the current MX-5 is a machine that’s long on driver satisfaction and pleasure. Plenty of pleasure. While not considered a winter car, the 2015 Mazda MX-5 PRHT (power retractable hardtop) Grand Touring in a deep meteor gray with spicy mocha interior is a definitive fun machine, no matter the climate.

The objective? Drive from Chicago to Indianapolis and back again for a week-long stay, hoping the weather would be cooperative (it was, for once!). While we never did have an opportunity to lower the roof, the MX-5 all buttoned up was a comfortable, quiet and secure place to be for driver and trusty assistant. With five-position seat heaters morning chill was gone relatively quickly. And had we been able to lower the roof, that’s accomplished in under 13 seconds, as we discovered on previous drives.
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What began with power from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine has now grown to a full MZR 2-liter DOHC, 16-valve power plant with 167 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 140 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm; redline is a robust 7200 and you’re turning 3750 rpm at 80 mph in sixth gear. This car has Mazda’s slick and lovely six-speed manual transmission that just snicks from gear to gear with precision. You might think 167 horsepower is meager, but with only 2593 pounds to lug around and with an ideal weight distribution of 51/49 percent front-to-rear, the MX-5 is a dream of a sports car with enough oomph to please anyone not on a racetrack, where MX-5s reign.

The double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspensions are firm enough but not jarring at all and, although this car’s wheelbase isn’t terribly long, it’s appropriate for the size and there’s very little overhang at either end of the chassis. The Mazda MX-5 handles like a purebred sports car – no shock there! Brakes are all-wheel disc and work without a hint of fade; steering is hydraulic power assisted rack-and-pinion, exceptionally direct and weighted just right. Mazda fits 205/45R17 Bridgestone rubber on this car together with split 5-spoke alloy rims that add pizzazz to this dark-colored car.
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The mileage figures quoted for the 2015 Mazda MX-5 PRHT Grand Touring have little to do with reality. While Mazda does request the driver use premium fuel (and we did), the government says mileage is 21/28/24 mpg. Not so – we got close to 25 around town and an easy 30mpg running between Chicago and Indy. It’s tough not to drive this car hard and to get better mileage than expected was an added pleasure.

Cargo volume is a meager 5.3 cubic feet but the 22-inch suitcase and big backpack fit handily under the rear deck. That wouldn’t work as well with the roof stowed but it was winter, right? And we did manage to fit a few extra gifts to take to friends each direction without using the footwell or the open space behind both seats for extra storage.

Nearly every Mazda we’ve driven lately has a blue light instead of a temperature gauge, but the MX-5 PRHT Grand Touring has a full complement of gauges, including temp. There’s also a handy trip computer that gives everything except range – look at the fuel gauge for that info. Quickly operating windows offer one-touch down operation, which allows extra revving while leaving Chicago’s many toll booths. At the base of the central stack lie 12-volt and auxiliary plugs; there’s no USB in sight. There’s a pull in the central storage between the seats to get to the fuel opening, where it’s always been on the MX-5.

The 2015 Mazda MX-5 PRHT Grand Touring does allow keyless entry and one turns a knob to start the car (without a key fitted). In this top-of-the-line model there’s HID headlights and halogen fog lights, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation (I don’t use my phone while driving – period), Sirius satellite radio with three presets and antitheft alarm, all part of the premium package ($1390) that, together with the suspension package of sport tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks and limited slip differential ($850) increase the entry fee from $30,245 including freight to a grand total of $32,285 out of the door.
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Even without the add-ons (and I wouldn’t want this car without them), Mazda fits leather seating that’s firm and supportive, a tilt leather-covered steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, driver seat height adjuster, auto-dimming rear mirror, glass rear window, dual exhausts (sound as good as they look), Bose audio with 7 speakers and great active and passive safety. New 2015 Mazda MX-5s haven’t been rated by the Feds yet but we know how good this car is at avoiding accidents with its agility.
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The moral of this story is this: as long as there’s two of you on a trip (or two with a very small dog), this is an extremely comfortable, quick, fun and luxurious little ride that you can enjoy and then reap wonderful resale value. Since 1989, Mazda’s MX-5 has been The go-to sports car. The good news is this: nothing’s changed; it’s still the best you can get.

Words and photos by Anne Proffit