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Mazda offers high-spec MX-5 RS to home-market buyers

Japanese special edition brings Recaro seats and Bilstein suspension

The appearance of an all-new Mazda MX-5 has been met with a lukewarm reception here at evo. While good fun in the right conditions, the car doesn’t yet offer the kind of precision and focus we crave from the very best performance vehicles.

As ever though, the aftermarket – and to an extent, Mazda itself – will slowly meet the needs of more serious drivers through upgrade packages and special editions.

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In Mazda’s home market, that’s resulted in the Mazda Roadster RS. In effect, it adds the kind of equipment UK buyers can only get on the top-end MX-5 2.0 Sport to the 1.5 model – the sole engine offered in Japan.

That means a set of Bilstein dampers and a front suspension tower bar to tighten up the handling, and a large-diameter brake kit to enhance stopping power.

No changes are made to the 129bhp, 1.5-litre Skyactiv four-cylinder petrol engine, but Mazda has added an ‘induction sound enhancer’ to give the revvy four an aural boost. Performance should be similar to the existing 1.5's 8.3-second 0-60mph sprint and 127mph top speed.

Drivers sit on Recaro nappa leather and Alcantara seats, while the equipment list is further bolstered by adaptive front lights with automatic high beams, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring, a Bose audio system and CD/DVD player.

Those aren’t perhaps the options you’d expect of something bearing RS badging – traditionally used to denote a lightweight model – but since the 1.5-litre car tips the scales at only 1020kg, it’s hardly the portliest of vehicles to start with. That, and Mazda has traditionally reserved the ‘NR-A’ tag in Japan for its lightweight, club-racer-ready models.

The price for Mazda’s latest special edition is 3,196,800 yen – just over £17,500 at current exchange rates, or a scant £995 more than an entry-level MX-5 1.5 SE in the UK.

Watch evo's Toyota GT86 vs Mazda MX-5 Deadly Rivals video below:

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