Pleasure Zone

Mazda’s MX5 is a zippy crowd-pleaser. A plaything with lashings of personality

After leaving school, my first interview was for a junior salesman at Mazda, Newcastle. I remember arriving nervously at the garage and I thought I’d done really well. Having been a fan of all things cars, this would have been the ideal job for me. Well, I didn’t get the job but the guy who did only lasted a week. I never got the call to go back so my dream job never came to fruition. Had I got the call then a life in the restaurant industry may have never beckoned at all… so, everything happens for a reason.

My first Mazda was the 626 which I think was a 2lt petrol engine, mated to an automatic gearbox. It was totally reliable, never missed a beat in the year I owned it; it wasn’t the best looking car in the world nor was it the best to drive. It was much less common than the Mondeo, and its trump card compared to the 3 series, had to be the standard equipment which would have been expensive options in the BMW. This brings me on to the car I have really enjoyed driving.

The designers at Mazda wanted to build a two-seater roadster that had an engine at the front and was rear wheel drive. The original MX5 was launched in 1989. No frills and an amazing car to drive. It was based on the Lotus Elan but being a Mazda it was very reliable.

Mazda have managed to make the world’s bestselling 2-seat sports car in the world, but after driving the car for a few days it’s easy to see why they have such a sales phenomenon on their hands.

With no competition it’s no wonder Mazda aim to clean up the market with the MX5. This latest 4th generation car is the best looking MX5 yet. The car is actually 10mm lower and 15mm shorter than the outgoing model. The overhangs have been reduced by 45mm at each end and the car now has a more muscular stance on the road. All of this helps give the perfect proportions and its fabulous new look. The thin front headlights and new front grille help give the front of the car a really aggressive look.

It’s actually smaller and about 100kg lighter than the outgoing model. The car’s bonnet has been lowered by 28mm and the A pillars have been moved back 70mm; both of these changes help improve forward visibility. There’s the choice of either a 1.5lt engine or a 2.0lt engine, both of which are mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

The pick of the engines for me is the 1.5lt with its softer spring set up and its rev-happy engine.

The car’s clutch is so light and easy to use, mated to a beautiful 6-speed manual with short throw changes that make driving even in heavy traffic a real joy.

This car was made for twisty country roads, driving it energetically you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.

Despite not having the most powerful engine, this car has the right amount of punch to make driving in and out of corners enjoyable.

Despite the larger engine only costing an extra £850, in this instance the smaller engine is the best choice all day long.

Stepping inside the car and you are greeted with an iPad style screen on the dashboard, which is controlled by a rotary dial on the centre console. With most cars having very complex looking dashboards, Mazda have gone down the less-is-more route. Simple rotary dials control the climate control. The car’s door tops are coloured to match the car’s exterior.

Unlike most convertibles this car has a fabric roof with no motors so opening and closing the roof is literally a one-handed operation. An automatic roof is likely to be introduced later in the year. The car’s boot space isn’t massive but there is more than enough room for a couple of small cases or a few weekend bags.

The MX5 harks back to an age of driving where power wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all. It makes driving a real joy. The car is priced from £19,000 and it really seems a total steal. Not only looking good but it’s such a fun car to drive I can see why it is the world’s bestselling two seater roadster.


Car supplied by Mazda UK | mazda.co.uk

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