A funny little thing about Mazda; they’re almost never your first thought when it comes to sports cars, and yet they make one of the most successful options on the market, in this case the 2023 MX-5 GT RS.
Once stigmatised as the ultimate in affordable hair dresser drop top fun, the MX-5 has plotted its way through history for almost 35 years, sticking to its original lightweight, affordable fun design philosophy along the way.
Built on the ND platform that’s a couple of years old now, it’s been honed and focused into the ultimate soft top. The GT RS comes with Brembo front brakes, 17-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, Bilstein suspension dampers and a front tower brace bar.
It’s all there to make this a little weapon that can handle track days and long runs without even breaking a sweat. Under the hood is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder 16-valve DOHC SV-T engine, fuelled by good old-fashioned high-octane petrol.
Paired to a SkyActive-MT manual 6-speed, it sends power to a limited slip diff at the rear that now has kinetic posture control to help the car through corners. That is when you aren’t trying to hang the back end out.
It’s a combo that will leave you grinning as you unfurl 135kW of power and 205Nm of torque. Weighing in at 1,035kg, the MX-5 is an absolute hoot in the bends. With a stiffer front end, it’s truly a masterpiece when you’re taking on the twisties.
From the moment you take off, you feel the advantage of little weight, a clutch with a great take up point, and short and direct shift throws. So good is it, that you’ll want to change gears for the sake of it. Torque feed is smooth, and offers power when you need it.
Even at 80km/h you can overtake in sixth gear, and if that’s not where you’re at, you simply potter around town at 3,000rpm. In what can only be described as a complete package, the 2023 Mazda MX-5 GT RS feels amazingly dialled in, especially at pace.
It’s a malleable package. You can over brake just a little and power out with some rear wheel slip, or you can nail the apex, set your line up and plant it mid-corner, winding out plenty of traction right up to redline. It’s a car that will actually teach you to drive better.
While sitting low in terms of ride height and seating position, it’s actually easier to get in and out of than you might think. There’s also more room in the cabin than you might expect (although it isn’t spacious by any means).
A track toy at heart, the MX-5 GT RS features a gear shifter and steering wheel that feel small in your hands, but in tune with the car. To remind you that you are in a compact vehicle the hand brake lever and air con controls are noticeably large.
It’s good for a giggle when you first climb on board. The seats are impressive, holding you well – although it would be nice if there was an option to add the Recaro variety seen in some special editions of the MX-5 over the years, here.
The 7.0-inch infotainment system is oddly suited to this car, despite being smaller than what is considered standard these days. It doesn’t get the newest version of Mazda’s software either, and that’s okay too, once you get the hang of the interactive dial controls.
What’s missing is a wireless phone charger, and a decent phone storage space. You also won’t find cord-free Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, and with the limited space in the cockpit, this would be super advantageous.
Boot space is a modest 130-litres, which is enough room for some track day trinkets like a helmet and race suit, or a 3-4 bag light shopping trip. That aside, the best way to sum up the MX-5 GT RS, is that it’s like having your cake and eating it too.
Mazda have provided a car that answers almost every cry for an affordable, fun, track car. It’s easy on fuel at 6.8-litres/100km. Perishables like tires and brake pads are cheap and due to its light weight, the engine isn’t getting absolutely punished when you drive it hard.
Add to that the affordable $53,330 plus on-roads price and the sheer thrills and smiles this car gives you with the roof up or down, and you get one of the best value pure sports cars of the modern era. We cannot recommend enough that you test drive one.
Your 2023 Mazda MX-5 GT RS can be had in Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Machine Grey Metallic, Jet Black Mica, Soul Red Crystal Metallic, Deep Crystal Blue Mica, Platinum Quartz Metallic and Zircon Sand Metallic.
Our test vehicle was provided by Mazda Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Mazda MX-5 GT RS, contact your local Mazda dealer.