2013 Jota Mazda MX-5 GT review

  • Fastest MX-5 production car driven
  • Extra power and revised suspension
  • On sale now, priced from £29,995

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Back in 2012, we drove a Mazda MX-5 GT concept that was designed to gauge public reaction to the idea of a faster MX-5.

Well, apparently reaction was positive, because there’s now a production version that’s based on the range-topping 2.0-litre Roadster-Coupe.

Changes over the standard car include uprated suspension and a sports exhaust, while power has been hiked by 45bhp to 203bhp and torque by 21lb ft to 160lb ft.

The MX-5 GT isn’t an official Mazda product; it was actually developed by racing firm Jota. However, it is backed by a full Mazda warranty and can be serviced at Mazda dealers.

What’s the 2013 Jota Mazda MX-5 GT like to drive?

Jota might have given the GT extra torque, but its engine has a similar character to the standard MX-5’s, in that it needs plenty of revs to do its best work.

This means you’ll struggle to spot any difference in performance much of the time. However, the GT is a bit faster when you thrash it and make full use of its slick manual gearbox.

The GT also sounds much better than the standard MX-5, emitting a deep, bassy exhaust note. The only downsides are the amount of vibration you get in the cabin at idle and the fact the engine never shuts up on the motorway.

Unsurprisingly, the GT is at its best on twisty roads, where it stays slightly flatter than the standard car, and retains its neutral, forgiving handling balance.

The ride remains firm but well controlled, too, but the MX-5’s structure isn’t as stiff as some rivals, so bumps send shudders through the steering wheel.

 

What’s the 2013 Jota Mazda MX-5 GT like inside?

Aside from a pair of Recaro sports seats that hold you firmly in place through corners, the GT’s interior is much like any MX-5’s.

That means it has the sort of low-slung driving position you want in a roadster, although it isn’t perfect because the pedals are offset and there’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel.

The cabin isn’t especially classy, either, because most things are made from hard plastic. However, it does feel solidly built and all-round visibility is better than it is in most sports cars, even when the roof is up.

That roof folds up and down electrically in around 12 seconds, and you don’t lose any space when it’s down, so there’s always enough space for a weekend’s luggage.

 

Should I buy one?

Affordability has always been central to the MX-5's appeal, which is a problem for the GT because, at £29,995, it's anything but cheap.

The regular 2.0-litre Roadster-Coupe model costs around £7000 less, while the rival Mini Roadster John Cooper Works is also considerably cheaper at £24,790. In fact, £30k is about what you’ll pay for our favourite versions of the Audi TT Roadster and BMW Z4.

All of these models from rival manufacturers feel faster than the Mazda in everyday driving, thanks to the low-down torque from their turbocharged engines, plus the Audi and BMW feel a lot classier inside.

Even if you’ve got your heart set on an MX-5, the standard car is a much better buy. The GT just feels too similar to justify its hefty premium.

 

What Car? says…

 

Rivals:
Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI 211
Mini John Cooper Works Roadster

Specification
Engine size 2.0-litre petrol
Price from £29,995
Power 203bhp
Torque 160lb ft
0-60mph 6.4 seconds
Top speed 140mph
Fuel economy 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions 181g/km

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