The Miata is a great dance partner on rural Ontario’s lesser-known twisty tarmac.
We’re about mid-way through the season with our 2019 Mazda MX-5 GS-P long-term tester, and what a season it has been! The car has been a hit in the local autocross community, and we have heard from a few autocrossers across the country that have bought MX-5s of their own on our recommendation. The answer may always be Miata, but it’s only accentuated by the sheer passion for these cars that has found a way to evoke smiles on the faces of enthusiasts everywhere.
Our managing editor Jerry Vo has been competing in the local auto-slalom series with this MX-5, that is bone stock with the exception of one very important modification. Courtesy of our friends at Burning Rubber Tire and Speed in Oakville, we sourced some aftermarket wheels (Konig Dekagrams). We then bought a set of Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R extreme performance summer tires. We’re not using this aggressive track rubber for street use – prior to every single autocross or track event, we have been swapping off the factory BBS wheels for our Konig setup.
The MX-5 is part of the A-Stock class, which is overrun with other MX-5s, along with competitors driving Subaru BRZs, Toyota 86s, Mazda RX-8s, and even a 1967 MGB. It’s a cool variety of cars, but our MX-5 has been the class champion in three out of four events thus far this season. The sheer amount of grip makes the MX-5 a slingshot through corners, and the power bump for 2019 (to 181 horsepower) does it all of the favours.
While the MX-5 has been an absolute champ at the autocross circuit, it also just took a 600km round trip up north into cottage country. I had two separate cottages to visit over a tiring weekend, and while both were in the Muskoka region, they were about three hours apart. With some great twisty roads up north, and some rain in the forecast, I opted to jump into our MX-5 and explore these new roads.
The Miata, as we know, is a great dance partner on rural Ontario’s lesser-known twisty tarmac. It handled them with ease, leaving a huge smile on my face as I tossed it like a slingshot out of corners. The six-speed manual transmission is very satisfying to use, with a great shifter and agreeable clutch. Ride quality is sorted too, and the MX-5 remains a decent choice for warm climate daily use. Fuel economy stayed at a frugal 6.0L/100km through cottage country on premium fuel, and combined efficiency is around 7.5L/100km right now.
Where I was a bit let down, however, is when the rain started falling. The MX-5 GT (reviewed here) gets extra lining on the soft convertible top that helps tremendously with noise isolation. This GS is perfectly fine with the top down, but wind and road noise is almost at an unbearable level with the top closed. Additionally, the small cabin becomes claustrophobic and almost too small for my six-foot frame. Essentially, this car would be a great daily driver if I lived in a climate where the top could be down almost always, or strictly as a fair weather toy.
We’re not even close to being done with this car – it has the remainder of the autocross events to try and win. If Jerry comes out at the top of his class in three out of the four remaining events, he goes into a shootout for overall champion. There are a bunch of variables to consider here including weather, track layout, and even driver error. However, we can come to the preliminary conclusion that the 2019 Mazda MX-5 GS-P with a sticky set of rubber is capable of great things.