Since the launch of the latest-generation Mazda MX-5, pretty much everything has been said about this award-winning and delicious little roadster. Well, almost everything. Driving enjoyment is the main factor, of course, but what about fuel economy?
To demonstrate how efficient the MX-5 and its SKYACTIV powertrain is, Mazda decided to sign the new RF version up for AJAC’s EcoRun. This annual event wasn’t established to push cars to their handling limits, but rather to maximise their energy consumption.
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During the two days of testing at EcoRun, eight journalists got to take the wheel of the little 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF, between Ottawa and Quebec City. I drove the car on the very last leg of the journey.
The MX-5, soft top or RF, is equipped with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. It’s no road rocket, of course, but the car weighs in at a light 2332 pounds (1058 kg). The RF version with its power-folding hard top is heavier by about 120 pounds (56 kg). Handling and agility are the two main reasons why the MX-5 is so exhilarating to drive.
With the six-speed manual gearbox, the MX-5 boasts city/highway/combined fuel economy numbers of 8.9/7.1/8.1 L/100 km, while consumption is virtually identical with the six-speed automatic, with a combined rating of 8.0 L/100 km. The car signed up for EcoRun was equipped with the row-it-yourself transmission.
My portion of the drive covered the road between the cities of Deschambault and Quebec. However, instead of taking Highway 40, we travelled down Route 138 that runs parallel to the Saint-Laurence River. With an average speed of about 80 km/h, the MX-5 proved that it can be quite efficient, and there’s just enough torque to avoid having to downshift when light uphills. It ended up with an average of 5.9 L/100 km, well below the official ratings.
Even during the complete trip from Ottawa to Quebec City, going through the cities of Saint-Jovite, Montreal and Joliette, the little MX-5 delivered an impressive overall average of 6.1 L/100 km. That’s two litres less than the combined rating. The only downside is that Mazda recommends using super unleaded, which obviously costs more.
The 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF starts out at $38,800 before freight and delivery charges in GS trim. As for the soft-top MX-5, whose roof can be manually raised and lowered in a matter of seconds, it retails from $31,900 in base GX guise. During EcoRun, Mazda’s sports car showed off its efficiency, for those moments when we’re not driving with the pedal to the metal down a twisty country road.
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