Andy Palmer tells us more about the car Aston will race in Le Mans’ new top class
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What’s this? A fancy pair of seats wrapped up in a shape resembling a new Mazda MX-5. Excuse me? We jest, of course. But the clue is in the name: this is a special edition of the rather lovely new Mazda MX-5 that now sits at the top of the range, here shod in lovely Recaro sports seats. There are new front, rear and side skirts, a new rear boot lip-spoiler, and piano-black door mirrors. Then come a set of 17in, diamond-cut alloy wheels, complete with an engraved MX-5 logo. Open the door, and there is more trim excellence inside.
What kind of trim excellence? The MX-5’s dashboard is swathed in Alcantara. Ditto the new heated Recaro seats, which also feature red piping (matching the red stitching along the dash). The pedals are also now made from alloy. And because it’s the range-topper, you get all the goodies from the slightly lower-priced ‘Sport Nav’ MX-5. This brings in lots of things like LED lights, a leather steering wheel, climate control, a DAB radio, Bluetooth, sat nav, parking sensors and a Bose stereo system. All in, lots of kit.
Good. Now where’s the extra power to go with all the extra kit? There is no extra power to go with all the extra kit. So it carries over stuff from the trim level below, which means a 2.0-litre, 158bhp four-pot, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, a limited slip diff, rear-wheel-drive, Bilstein dampers and a strut tower bar. Ah, ok. Is it still good to drive? It is still good to drive. Anything else? Nothing we haven’t already covered here, and here. This Sport Recaro is a trim special, but because it comes with those dampers, diff and the MX-5’s inherent goodness, remains a lovely thing to literally throw around. Steering is ace, ditto the gearbox, ditto the way it pitches into and out of corners. Ride? Less good, bit pattery which puts a bit of shake through the chassis. Overall – and we’ve said this before - the 1.5-litre on its smaller wheels is a fractionally sweeter car. So should I buy it? If you’re concerned about such things, Mazda will only build 600 of the Sport Recaros, so it’ll be exclusive. It looks great, those seats are – all joking aside – genuinely lovely (although the driving position is still a bit high), while the additional garnish makes a nice difference inside. If you must have the top-of-the-range, then go for it, because it’s loaded with kit. But it’s also creeping into quite expensive territory, clocking in at £24,295. Consider that an MX-5 2.0 SE starts at just over £20k, and offers the same driving experience, which – ultimately – is what the MX-5’s all about.