Sales of the Mazda MX-5 sports car are expected to lift now that the more powerful 2.0-litre model (above) has arrived in New Zealand with the option of an automatic gearbox.
The 1.5-litre model was launched here in the latter half of last year. It was available only with a six-speed manual gearbox, hardly a handicap because little comes close to the blend of engine/rear-drive chassis dynamics for sheer driving fun.
But the 2.0-litre was always on its way. “When we launched the 1.5-litre last year we were aware that there were people who wanted a little extra horsepower and the ease of use that comes with an auto transmission,” said Mazda NZ managing director Andrew Clearwater.
“We are one of the few markets to get both the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre models – it’s great to be able to give New Zealand motorists a choice.”
So far Mazda has sold 24 of the 1.5-litre variants – 21 last year and another three in January. The car won the Sports Performance category in the 2015 automotivenews.co.nz car of the year awards.
The high-revving 1.5-litre SkyActiv engine is a sweet powerplant, its output of 96kW/150Nm intimately involving the driver in the manual delivery process.
But the 2.0-litre SkyActiv unit offers a little more outright oomph – 118kW/200Nm – and the manual/auto option. The manual is priced from $46,995, the automatic $48,495. The 1.5-litre manual starts at $40,995.