Koshachya habit: an extreme test drive the Mazda MX-5 at the circuit Novak

It is precisely because of felines. But affectionate home murchalki not. Too muscular seems compact, poured body too hard gaze frowning eyes. By the way, Japanese designers they are called “cat’s eye”. But this is not representative of big cats such as the jaguar, lion or tiger – these predators are too heavy and massive. And these names are already taken …

Mr. epard? Also not suitable. Cheetah is beautiful only during rapid running and in everyday life, he neskladen as a teenager. Rather, it resembles the Caracal, elegant and slender desert lynx. Caracals, by the way, very easily tamed and live well with the people on the rights of pets. It is a pity that it can meet only outside the Russian Federation. No, not with Caracals and a Mazda MX-5 fourth generation. Which in the US are sold at quite a feline named the Miata …

Bob Hall Ideas

The story began back in 1979, when the American motoring journalist Bob Hall invited the Director on the development of company Mazda, Mr. Kenichi Yamamoto, to undertake the development of easy and affordable sports car. The fact that at that time this was substantially free niche. Manufacturers suggested basically very powerful, and therefore very expensive sports models with mnogolitrovymi motors.

Mazda MX-5 Coupe Prototype ‘in 1988

But the American public has had time to rasprobovat another approach. Here it is worth recalling that after the end of World War II, many of the officers who returned to their homeland, primarily serving in the Air Force and stationed at bases in the UK, brought the British sports cars.

Articles / History
There was a small but proud Roadster: what is so good Mazda MX-5?

How it all began in the early 80-ies the company Mazda launched a major expansion into the US and European markets. Open representative offices, factories were built. Good help in …

All these TVR, MG, Triumph and Morgan did not hit engine power, maximum speed or acceleration insane. But they were small, light, well managed and gives a lot of driving pleasure.

In short, this approach has had time to find their fans. But at the turn of 1970 – 1980-ies, the British automotive industry is already in a deep crisis. And the company has had the experience of creating a Mazda sports car with a rotary engine, so that the grains have fallen on fertile ground.

Cats will soon be born

But to say that the process of birth of a new sports car just does not work. This is because even in the refrain became supposedly fast cats only born, but the process of gestation and birth of a cat named Miata (which at that time still had no idea that she will give the name, and was called modestly “R729 Project”) took almost 10 years . First, long time to choose the layout, and studied a variety of options such as the location of the engine and the drive axle. Finally embodiment perednemotornom stopped at a location above the front axle of the motor and drive the rear wheels.

In the photo: Mazda Miata ‘1989

But most importantly, that in the course of this work have been formulated the basic principles that remain unshakable to this day. Firstly, the car should be a two-seater and is very easy. Secondly, it must be affordable, which means that it is necessary to maximize mass components models, including engines. Third, it should be nice and attract attention. Finally, it should provide the owner of the same comfort as a conventional sedans and hatchbacks, but not at the expense of emotional response and driving pleasure.

In the photo: Mazda Miata ‘1989

The philosophy of the Japanese centaurs

Actually, it was then that philosophy took shape Jinba Ittai, or “unity of horse and rider.” The fact that the number of traditional martial arts samurai, such as Bo-jutsu (fighting with a pole), IAI-jutsu (the art of lightning-draw), jujutsu (unarmed combat) or yadome-jutsu (fighting off arrows at the sword or bare hands) and included yabusame-jutsu, the art of horse archery.

To master this art, the samurai was to be with his horse a single entity, and learn to control them without using their hands (or else how to shoot?), Becoming a mythical creature dzhinba-Ittai – the Half, polucheloveka. For designers of Mazda, this meant maximizing the relationship between driver and car, and associative concept of the new machine sounded like “Racehorse rushing forward and pushes off the ground with powerful hind legs, and merged them together with a dashing rider.”

A quarter century of success

The work on the project was attended by people such big names as Head of Development Mazda Toshiko Hirai, the future chief designer Shigenori companies Fukuda, head of the Californian design studio, Tom Matano and renowned designer Marc Jordan. And when the February 9, 1989 th at the Chicago Auto Show opened to the fallen veil general overview of the new serial roadster, it was found that they all calculated absolutely right. Success was deafening!

And this success accompanied all the generations of the MX-5. Already in 2000, the model has got to the Guinness Book of Records as the most popular and mass sports car in history, and by now the number sold the MX-5 of all generations is approaching one million.

Thus, the first generation of a factory index NA was born in 1989. The most characteristic feature of its steel retractable hood in the headlights, and very light body (the empty weight of the car was only 980 kg). 116-hp engine B6ZE (RS) 1.6-liter engine has been developed on the basis of which was equipped with Mazda 323. From the basic version it is distinguished lightweight crankshaft, flywheel and reduced aluminum crankcase with cooling fins. Mass production of this model lasted until 1997.

Photo: engine Mazda MX-5 ‘in 1989

Perhaps it would have lasted longer, especially since in 1994 the engine range appeared 1.8-liter engine capacity of 131 liters. a. that can satisfy the needs of “those who like it hot.” Alas, retractable headlights come into conflict with the rules of safety of pedestrians, and in 1998 it was replaced by a generation NB.

Apart from the usual type of lighting under the streamlined caps, the second generation MX-5 received a limited-slip differential rear axle, three-channel ABS system enlarged trunk and higher quality interior materials. Capacity 1.8-liter engine was increased first to 140 and then to 146 liters. from. The car was much faster, but … grew up and weight.

The debut of the third generation, NC, was held at the Geneva Motor Show 2005. The car has become a little more (for example, the wheelbase has increased by 65 mm) and more powerful. Under the hood, the new MX-5 could be placed either two-liter “four” capacity of 160 liters. sec., or 1.8-liter engine, derated to 126 liters. from. per gram of excess weight and the resulting increase was only 10 kg. This model is quite caught on, and in our country, of course, adjusted for the fact that Russia – not the most comfortable place for convertibles. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation has successfully passed Zoom-Zoom Challenge and Mazda Sport Cup monoklassovye race, and in 2011, the Russian team won the ice race Mazda MX-5 Ice Race in Sweden.

Bummer “fifteenth” year

In short, when the fall of 2014 Mazda officially presented next world, the fourth-generation MX-5, the Russian journalists looked at him with an enthusiastic and anticipation. Still – after all in this car joined together design philosophy «KODO – Soul of Motion ‘, SKYACTIVE engineering principles and the same approach Jinba Ittai his ideal weight distribution between the axles in a 50:50 and the ability to respond literally to the mental desire of the driver!

Alas, the expectations did not come true. The crisis has postponed the red carpet ND generation on Russian soil for an indefinite period. But the car is something of this does not become less interesting and attractive! So for any person for whom the car is more than equipped with four-wheel mechanical means to move the favorite carcass from point A to point B, the opportunity to ride on the MX-5 becomes a real godsend.

So for me this unexpected gift was the chance to test the world’s most popular roadster on the road racing track Novak. This circuit is located near the capital of Serbia, Belgrade, and is owned by the National Driving Academy. Circuit route, of course, does not meet the high “formulary” requirements, but is perfect for testing and for training and competition to rank simpler, because in it there is also high-speed straight, slow and technically demanding bunch, and fast long corners.

In short – it means it is easier

But first, a little about the appearance of the project chief designer authorship Masashi Nakayama and design features Mazda MX-5 ND. Firstly, the body of the model with index ND been severely shortened, and its length was small in the whole record quarter-model history. It is only 3915 mm! “Kitty, why do you have such small eyes? You squinted, because you’re mad at me? “Yes, not at all. Just had the most to shorten the front overhang and the lower edge of the bonnet to improve visibility, so the designers have tried to make the headlamp units as compact as possible.

The designers have paid great attention to the curvature of the sides of the machine, which is also responsible for the distribution and glare, creating the impression of movement even when the car is stationary, and play an important role in organizing the flow of air streams. And in general I should say at once – live car produces much more impressive than the photo.

For an athlete and sybarite

But in the changes taking place in the two seemingly mutually exclusive directions. First, the interior became distinctly sporty. This image works many details of the knob gearshift lever in the form of a baseball ball to the instrument cluster. She became concise, number kruglyashey rims with satin aluminum was reduced to three, and took place in the center of a huge tachometer, which is located to the right of the speedometer dial and the left took the multifunction display.

But on the other hand, the crew of the MX-5 has received all the modern benefits of electronic civilization: a seven-inch touch screen MZD Connect system, which can be controlled by touching the screen or using similar to the controller washer on the transmission tunnel, a high-quality BOSE sound and a complex electronic system assistants i-ACTIVSENSE with blind spots monitoring systems, warning of an impending transport side when reversing, monitoring of compliance with traffic lanes, automatic switching of dipped and main beam and assistance when starting uphill.

Say, why all this is really an athlete? Indeed, pure race car this is not much of a need. But Mazda MX-5 and the glory that is designed not only for the track, but just to live in the city, and is able to give pleasure to both experienced riders, and most ordinary driver without any ambition. And there are important and the sound of the audio system, and accurate contrast stitching leather parts, and the climate system.

The hole boo

Landing in the MX-5 is based on the principle “the hole wham!” Indeed, the driver’s seat is located very low. But by itself it is a product of high technology: a place of springs under their upholstered took special mesh of a polymeric material with a variable stiffness. It is possible not only to make the seats really comfortable (although they hold you in my arms very tight), but also to reduce the weight of each 1.5 kg (compared with the traditional design of the seats).

So engineers and drove the extra weight: here a half, here kilogram, here are ten … greater use of aluminum and bring his weight fraction of up to 9% (from it now made the hood, trunk lid, front fenders, amplifiers bumpers, safety railings and frame with a soft roof ) – winning weight. Increase the share of high-strength steel with 58 to 71% – in the title win. Replace the power steering to the electric – winning weight.

As a result, the MX-5 “lost” more than 100 kg, and option c 1,5-liter engine weighs less than a ton again (to be exact – 975 kg), and the version with the engine SKYACTIV-G 2.0 (just such a car and went to my test) – exactly 1 ton.

But you drove into a narrow leather jack cockpit (possibly in the presence of the roof I have a feeling, “then rushed paramedics, fixed us”, but the roof is not present, and over his head – Balkan sky), pressed the button “Etpu Start”, and of -under the hood sounds surprisingly deep voice purring two-liter “four”. Right hand tightly covered leather ball gear lever, the left rests on a small, but very uhvatisty wheel – let’s go!

The first is your feeling – to what are clearly working box … Click, click, click – move the lever does not exceed four centimeters, which means that you can change gear sharp wrist cast.

With feline grace

For a start – a small circle, which exhibited “snake”, two “perestavochnyh” retarder, and the last turn before the start and finish area is filled with water from the sprinkler system. By the way, ESP system is turned off, and if on the asphalt to overdo it with the gas, the car will inevitably unfold (as some of my colleagues and demonstrated).

“Snake” … The first corner with a squeal of rubber, the second … And that’s great! Firstly, the thick A-pillar (a convertible can not be otherwise, because they, together with the rear arches must protect the crew in case of a coup) is practically not spoil visibility. In general, I was afraid that because of the low landing will not see anything – but no, the whole area in front of the car can be seen very well, and you have the opportunity to choose the best path. All the reaction of the car is very fast and accurate, yet you feel perfectly what happens to the wheels. And now – on the big track!

Rotate, acceleration, braking, corner entry – can be open, straight, fourth, fifth, sixth … Long fast turnaround? Mazda just crouches on the outer rear wheel and allows almost immediately open the choke by screwing in the bend with feline grace. Yes that there, MX-5 perfectly controlled and instantly respond to any of your actions in any mode!

DSC is not a hindrance

And if you include the DSC? From colleagues, who happened to be tested in 2015, pre-production samples, I have heard that the DSC too rough upsets the car at the slightest hint at the beginning of the slip and spoil all the fun. Well, we dare?

It seems, Mazda engineers have brought to mind the setting of the stabilization system, and now it works quite smoothly and unobtrusively. How it affects the speed cornering – I do not know, I can only say that the system can be enabled to pay a little more attention and a little less taxiing – the gas pedal.

But the most important thing is that at least enabled, even with off DSC wants to ride and ride. Inhale deeply saturated with the scent of the air grass, enjoy the sun and the fact that in spite of the speed, but the breeze is walking in the cockpit. Attack turns feel like the weight of poured elastic wheel in your hands, feel its power on the machine and its power over you … I guess this is the Jinba Ittai, «merger of horse and rider.” And the fact that the horse is different cat’s habits – so it’s only for the better.

The main thing – to convince her friend

Still, all good things, unfortunately, tends to end up … No matter how I wanted to cut round and round, I had yet to stop and hand over the car. But the most sad that the prospects for the Mazda MX-5 ND in Russia is absolutely vague. The Mazda Motor Rus would very much like to include in the model line, at least from the fashion considerations. It is one thing to make, which has no sports car, and quite another – a brand that has such a car is, and it can be bought. But while the economy is working against such an option.

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