In 2016, it’s little surprise that so many of life’s pleasures come from activities where technology and convenience have been stripped away.

Stomping on grapes for their juice would be one, as would walking over to someone to talk to them face-to-face. Even using a telephone for actual voice-talking would be a novelty for some. The same applies to driving.

By Alex Forrest

Purifying the driving experience by boiling it down to its basics is a defining talent of the world’s best sports cars.

The Mazda MX-5 is one of them, but the arrival of the 2.0-litre version in November last year complicated things a little. We first tasted the all-new Mixer in 1.5-litre form, and one of its true joys is the need to change gears often.

The little 1.5 only has 96kW and 150Nm, but it also has an awful lot of heart and it will sing all day if you keep it on song.

Yes, the fact you have to use that sweet six-speed manual gearbox often and quickly is a very good thing.

Now the 2.0-litre has arrived, with 33 per cent more torque and 23 per cent more power. The numbers are 118kW and 200Nm, and they mean you can spread those gear changes out a bit.

The extra outputs are immediately noticeable, and they give the little roadster some genuine poke.

Mid-corner, the 2.0-litre’s torque simply makes the rear end squat down closer to the road, telling the driver it won’t be long before things start to loosen up back there.

You can confidently round suburban corners in third gear and know there’ll be enough twist in the propshaft to keep you up with traffic.

Apart from the engine, other factors differentiating the 2.0 from the 1.5 include the 2.0’s suspension, which is stiffer in the front and rear by 19 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.

Like the 1.5, the 2.0 comes in two model grades, being the Roadster at $38,370 drive away, and the Roadster GT at $43,940. Both model grades get 17-inch wheels, as opposed to the 16-inch ones which are standard in the 1.5.

Like the 1.5, the 2.0 is also available with a six-speed auto, which requires an extra $2,000 and also doesn’t get a limited slip differential as standard.

Brake rotors are also slightly bigger in the 2.0-litre.

Everything else we’ve said before about the new MX-5 still stands.

If your heart is beating, it’ll make you grin daftly at the simple joys of its steering which seems to be operated by thought, and the overarching feeling that you don’t just sit in this car, you wear it.

Really, what the 2.0-litre MX-5 brings is the option to not change gears as often and have a bit more grunt for climbing hills.

It’s a factor you’ll have to weigh up against the cheaper 1.5, which brings with it more reason to run up and down that wonderful gearbox to keep it on song.

You can’t go wrong with either of them.

But, in an ideal world, we’d get the 2.0 manual, and change gears just as often, whether it’s needed or not. And, when we feel like it, we’d enjoy the engine’s extra flexibility when it’s time to just cruise.

The MX-5 had not been rated by ANCAP at the time of writing.

Mazda MX-5 2.0-litre Specifications

Price driveaway (as tested): from $38,370 drive away
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Power: 118kW @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm @ 4,600rpm
Claimed fuel economy: 6.9 litres/100km (diesel)
ANCAP Rating: not rated
CO2 Emissions: 162g/km