CAR magazine has gotten an opportunity to try out the refresh of the MX-5, which has left them impressed enough to say it's "still the best car Mazda makes." There's nothing revelatory coming for 2009, just more consistent refinement of a winning formula. The biggest change is a bit of rhinoplasty that adds more of the family nose to the MX-5's visage. The headlamps have taken on a shape that echoes the car's siblings the 3 and the 6. Grille openings, and the shape of the front airdam, call to mind the RX-8, and new sill extensions stretch between the wheels. The tweaking adds a whiff more aggression to the convertible's look, which some have found effeminate in the past.
Rather than get caught up in the recent massive horsepower war, Mazda's been careful to maintain the MX-5's stellar chassis manners that allow drivers to make the most of the horsepower with the car's penchant for serving up handling enjoyment. There have been refinements to the hardware: the transmission now has shorter throws, and the engine gets a forged crank connected to new pistons, and a new valvetrain also helps orchestrate a power peak 300 rpm higher, now at 7,000, and redline bumps out to 7,500. For those that don't want to shift themselves, there's a six speed automatic, and the front suspension has been revised to improve steering feel and action. The MX-5 has evolved from an MGB throwback to a classic in its own right. Now, if they'd just make a proper fixed-head version. Thanks for the tip, Nguyen Ta!