Saturday, October 31, 2015


Okay, it’s as simple as this:

“Dear Santa, I want one. I have been very, very good!”

I am happy to join my colleagues who write about cars for a living and say that this could be the most fun you can have sitting down!

If you want some of this action it will only cost you $31,990 – and that’s only $2,400 more expensive than the original NA model, launched in 1989! This one's got aircon, bluetooth, iPod connectivity and electric windows!

The price may have stretched the original boundaries, but the latest ND version is true to its creators’ intentions.

MX-5 1982 concept

It’s a plain and simple sports car with (nowadays) a lot of creature comforts that even today still delivers driving fun in big bundles, just like the original.

MX-5 1989 NA model
Quite frankly, I can’t see why anyone would want anything more than the entry level car shown below.

The 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated engine is willing and happy to rev to the redline, and despite me having too much fun behind the wheel, the MX-5 is still delivering 6.5 l/100km!

The manual transmission is a gem. The six-speeds offer enormous flexibility and the slick and well-sorted change action is pure delight to use. In fact I cannot believe how flexible this car is in 6th gear at just under 2000rpm. You can ease down on the throttle at that engine speed and the MX-5 will pull easily, without shuddering and complaining. It’s not something I would recommend, but it is evidence of the elegant combination of power/engine curves and gearbox ratios.

The other outstanding feature of this new MX-5 is the chassis stiffness. Not an ounce of any form of scuttle shake, or bending. This is a big contributor to its pinpoint handling.

Let’s check off a few benefits: the sound system is excellent, the instruments are simple, clear and easy to read; the seats are comfortable; the lowering and raising of the roof exceptionally easy, and the storage cubby holes (whilst they test your body’s flexibility) are very useful.

The MX-5 isn’t perfect. Few things in life are, but the biggest bitch is reserved for the poor old passenger. The height of the front seats is not variable, the seat belt can’t be adjusted to suit someone of small stature, and just such a person complained about poor thigh support in the seat, and the possibility of being throttled by the seat belt in hard braking.

So, let’s go driving. Having been brought up on a cousin’s MG TC, my own Austin Healey Sprite IIA, and a friend’s MG B where does the MX-5 sit in the sports car firmament? Right where it should. It’s zippy, great handling, excellent roadholding, terrific brakes and just a touch of exuberance will flick the tail out at times.

The ride is firm, but in no way uncomfortable. Smooth bitumen reveals good secondary ride, but the occasional concrete highway can be a bit bouncy. I think the Mazda engineers have got it just right.

As you'd expect the trunk is small, but certainly not miniscule. It will easily take a couple of overnight bags, but yes, you're right. There's no spare, just a pressure-pack can for dealing with a flat tyre. Whatever!

When I was in Florida last year I spent a good deal of time in a friend’s Honda S2000, and the latest MX-5 shows that both Honda and Mazda studied British sports car blueprints very carefully – creating their own unique recipes for delivering plain and simple, exhilarating, sports car motoring. 

They might be just a tad more comfortable than their historical antecedents, but in a contemporary milieu they both follow a pretty simple formula for fun.

In a word, I would call the MX-5 - SUPER!

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