I owned my 1.8i Mazda MX-5 (Mark 2.5 model) for two and half years, but sold it last year when the price of petrol went through the roof. I have to say that it's the best car I've ever owned.
The Mark 2 MX-5 is, in my (slightly biased) opinion, the best looking MX-5 of them all. The newer version (Mark 3), although a very good car and slightly bigger than the mark 2, looks a bit bloated. It does not look as sleek as the previous version.
I think, in the right colour, that the Mark 2 MX-5 is one of the best looking cars on the road (again, but I'm biased). It has a low slung appearance, and is all organic curves, rather than harsh lines. With the top down, it looks even better. Unlike many other sports cars it does not appear aggressive; rather to me it screams fun.
I found the interior quite a nice place to spend time. The dominant colour is black (actually, almost the only colour) which looks purposeful, I liked it. The instrument panel dials are surrounded by silver, which sets them off nicely. There is not an awful lot of room in here, but the driving position is superb. You don't sit on the seat; you sit IN the car, very low down. Getting out can be a bit of an effort, however.
The seats are very comfortable and good looking, with a reasonable range of adjustments. Anyone over six feet tall may feel a little hemmed in.
The equipment level is acceptable, rather than generous with power steering, electric mirrors and windows, and remote central locking.
Lowering the top is simplicity itself. Unhook two latches and lower with one hand. This is FAR faster than the fancy electrical hoods you see nowadays, and much lighter. It's possible, if you're reasonably strong, to raise the hood with one arm, whilst sitting in the driving seat. This is excellent, as it means you can raise and lower the hood, according to what the weather's doing, without having to pull over and get out (warning, do the hood thing whilst stopped at the lights, not whilst driving).
The running costs are a bit higher than an average supermini, but not as high as more expensive sports cars, a reasonable compromise.
Fuel economy is surprisingly bad. The car is one of the lightest on the road, yet the official combined figure is 32.5 mpg. In normal use, I rarely achieved this. During my ownership, I averaged 27 - 31mpg (ouch!). This hurt when petrol was at its priciest last year.
Insurance is group 13 (I paid £550), and, due to its high CO2 emission figures, it's in band F for car tax which is £210. I did hear that there are changes on the way and that this will increase.
Maintenance costs are not cheap, but not too dissimilar to other marques. I paid £205 for a 24000 mile service which consisted of a few checks and an oil change. Good value for money, not!
Having said that, the car is so reliable, that, other than servicing, there should be few other costs incurred.
I have, of course, saved the best for last. This car is fantastic to drive! It was designed with the philosophy of "Jinba Ittai" which means "rider and horse as one". Driving this thing, with its direct steering, with your backside a few inches from the road surface, really does feel like you're part of the car.
Power is reasonable at 146 bhp which is enough to enjoy the experience. The car has 50:50 weight distribution and rear wheel drive which is (apparently) a great layout for a sports car.
The car holds the road well (in the dry!) and responds well to your inputs, with plenty of feedback from the steering wheel.
With the roof down, it's even better. Driving 'topless', you're not insulated from the elements at all. Your speed seems higher and the view is superb. I found that I tended to drive faster with the roof down than up.
One slight problem is that, as the car is so low slung, you can feel a bit vulnerable on the motorway. I was sometimes unsure if lorry drivers even knew I was there!
In the wet, it can be a different story. The lightness, weight distribution, and rear wheel drive combine to be a bit scary sometimes when its wet. It's possible to find yourself facing back the way you came when going on to a roundabout if you put your foot down. If you're careful, it's fine. Fit good tyres though (I used Goodyear Eagle GSD3's which are recommended for this car and were superb).
Overall, this is a brilliant car. With petrol prices down, the days lengthening, and with spring on the way, I'm regretting selling it!
~~~~~~~~~ Background ~~~~~~~~~ We bought a Mazda MX5 as our first ever car in January 2003. Bizarre time to be buying a soft-top car, you might think, but actually quite good from an economic point of view – you'll be one of only a few people looking at these sorts of cars in the dead of winter and so can pick up a bargain – and probably get to test the waterproof quality of the roof! The model we have is the 1.8i S, and is W reg. As standard, it has ABS brakes, sill plates, electric wing mirrors, heated rear window, a CD player, twin air bags, mud flaps, alloy wheels and branded carpet (!). These are mostly only options on the 1.8i and 1.6i, although the 1.8i has some as standard too. Launched in 1989, the MX5 is now the world's top selling roadster (according to the Guiness Book of Records). It has a front engine, is rear-wheel drive and looks fantastic. It's become known as a hairdressers car, but don't let that put you off! There have been two body types, Mark I, 1989 – 1998, and Mark II, post-1998. The easiest way to tell them apart is by looking at the headlights. Mark 1 had pop-up headlights, which many people love, and I absolutely hate. I test drove one MX5 with this sort of headlight, and found them distracting when turned on or off. Apparently many owners find that the headlight mechanism is the first part to need replacing, too. Other changes included the back window, which was changed from plastic to glass, a raised boot lid, and it also saw the addition of dual airbags. ~~~~ Looks ~~~~ The shape of the car is, above all, curvy. The bonnet, the roof, the back end, it's all curves everywhere you look. I like this in a car, and I especially like the front of the M
;X5 for its curvaceous goodness. As you sit in the car and look down the bonnet, it has a definite sweep upwards in the centre, presumably so the clever mechanic-types could fit all the engine into what is, afterall, a pretty small space. The car is available in many many colours, from bright red or silver through to the classic racing green or dark blue. Mazda do occasionally change the colours that their cars are available in, so if you can't get the colour you want new, it could be worth trying the second hand market. ~~~ Roof ~~~ As a soft-top convertible, the roof on a MX5 is very important. The standard roof is made of black vinyl, and is very well made. We have never had any problems with leaks or similar, although I know that they can happen. It's possible to get an optional hard-top for MX5s, that many people use during the cold season, however we don't have the space to store it when not in use, so we have chosen not to bother. They cost around £200 from a dealer, and are colour matched to the body of the car. Perhaps the most important piece of information about a soft-top car is how well the folding mechanism works when you take the roof down. Fortunately, on the Mazda MX5 it's a very simple mechanism, and one that seems robust and relatively easy to use. It's manual rather than electric, which I think is a good thing, as electric mechanisms tend to use up much more space. To put the roof down, there are clips on each side of the roof, passenger and driver side. They are undone, and the roof then just lifts down. If doing it when seated inside the car it can be a little difficult, as the roof is relatively heavy and you wouldn't want to damage it by dropping it down. But it's easy enough to twist and reach over with it to prevent this. Although I h
ave in the past taken the roof down while the car was moving (I was the passenger!), it's not something I'd really recommend doing. Putting the roof up again is more fiddly – almost impossible to do while sat in the car due to the weight that needs lifting. Again, it's a case of grabbing the roof and lifting it into position, then making sure that the clips are done up securely. All told, it takes around 30 seconds, which is important in our lovely British weather! Obviously it isn't possible to do when the car is moving – if for no other reason than the wind resistance that the roof would generate. One comment I would make about the roof is that the cover designed to go over it when it's down is, frankly, rubbish. It's very fiddly to attach, and uses a combination of feeding the edge of it into a channel, and securing it with poppers. The fit is very tight, and to be honest it's not strictly necessary anyway, it just makes the roof look better when it's down. We don't usually bother with it. Finally, do be aware that it's not advised to take the roof down on days when the temperature drops below 5C. And in very hot or sunny weather, don't forget your suntan lotion (if you're follically challenged, wear a hat)! ~~~~~ Interior ~~~~~ The interior of the car is, as you might expect, rather on the small side. You need to be fairly agile to enjoy this car, getting into it is done at an almost horizontal angle and you feel very close to the ground when sitting in it. The two seats feel surprisingly roomy, and there's certainly plenty of leg room for both passenger and driver, although anyone over about 6 feet tall might have problems. There's more space on the back shelf than you might expect, too, although this is the space that the roof uses when folded do
wn, so isn't always available. The seats in our car are covered in black cloth, although heated leather seats are available on some models. They do recline and are adjustable forwards/backwards to some extent, however if you try to push them too far back, they have an annoying habit of squeaking against the back shelf. The climate controls and radio/CD player are all on the central console between driver and passenger. This is also where the controls for your rear heated window switch, rear fogs and hazard lights are located. The controls themselves are standard and therefore easy to use. The only gripe I'd have is that there's nothing to tell you if your fog lights are on or not, which can be a problem if you don't realise that they are still turned on. The gear stick is just in front of this central panel, which is fine, but my problem is around the location of the handbrake. It is to the left of the central console, on the passenger side. This can create an obstsacle for the passenger, not exactly something that you want in a car! One thing worth mentioning is the heaters in the car. Important, thanks to the UK's notoriously cool weather – turning the heaters on full blast will soon have your feet (and the rest of you) feeling like they're on fire, even with the roof down in the middle of winter! I've never been in a car with such powerful heaters. Behind the gear stick there is a storage area, inside which are the levers to open both the boot and the petrol cap. This is just about big enough to keep a couple of pairs of sunglasses in, and maybe a hat for those sunny days you're hoping for! The glove box is really quite large, plenty big enough to store some spare CDs for the CD player and your car documents, a bottle of water and so on. Both the glove box and central storage area are loc
kable, with the normal car key. How secure these locks are I've never had cause to investigate, thankfully. The dials on the dash board are very easy to see, even in very strong sun with the roof down. The only thing slightly different from other cars I've driven is that the milometer is digital. There are two trip counters (marked A and B) and a small button to press that cycles through the milometer and the two trip counters. I like the fact that there are two trips, this proves useful when needing to keep an eye on, for example, fuel consumption but also wanting to measure distance between locations. We always use one trip for seeing how many miles we've done between filling it up, as we know we get around 300 miles out of a tank of petrol. There's a certain level of road noise while driving, definitely much more than you'd hear in a standard car. However, it's not so bad as to be intrusive, it's perfectly possible to hold a conversation with your passenger and/or hear the radio. ~~~~ Safety ~~~~ The car has airbags in the doors and to the front, for both driver and passenger. There's no roll bar or supports above the headrests (like the Z3/Z4 has), however, although the windscreen supports are reinforced. There are ABS brakes, which are very good indeed, however the car is rear wheel drive, which makes it much easier to skid or spin the wheels, particularly in wet or icy weather. It can definitely get a bit twitchy on occasion. The new shape doesn't have pop-up headlights as the older versions did, which apparently are considered a safety issue, presumably if you hit someone while they're popped up. Mazda run a registration scheme for MX5 owners, if you haven't heard from them within 6 weeks of acquiring your car, they ask you to call 070
00 111 111 and register with them. The car is, I suppose, eminently nickable. It is, afterall, a soft-top, and these cars aren't renowned for their high security. However it is one of the less desirable cars in its class as far as thieves are concerned (I believe its in insurance group 11), so this is less of a concern than it would be with many other roadsters. Every MX5 has an immobilizer fitted, although there is no alarm as standard. ~~~~~~~~ Practicality ~~~~~~~~ In practice, this is not a family car, or even a very practical one for couples. Of this type of car, though, it is the most practical that you will find. The interior space is small compared to a standard car, the boot is tiny (although large by competitors standards), the spare wheel is a “make do” wheel rather than a full sized one, and by taking it out you can effectively double your boot space. There are no back seats, no room for a suitcase unless you get a boot rack to strap it to, and you get around 300 miles from a full tank of petrol. On the plus side, the glove boz and central storage area are both lockable, good for when the roof is down, and the glove box especially is surprisingly roomy. And of course when the roof's down, visibility is second to none... That's not a lot of plus side, all things considered...but be honest, who buys a roadster for practical reasons? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Performance/Handling ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Mazda MX5 is not the nippiest car on the block, nor the most admired, nor the sexiest looking. It is, however, an accessible roadster at a pretty good price. It has a top speed of around 130mph, and goes pretty well. When driving, it pootles around well at 30mph, but take it on the motorway and try to keep it at 70mph? You'll find i
t's much happier trying to nudge up to 90mph or so, and it's dangerously easy not to notice what's happening. Taking it on winding, country roads is where it comes into its own – it sticks to the road like glue, mainly thanks to the rear wheel drive. Changing through the gears is good, although it can be a little stiff when the engine is cold. There's no danger of accidentally selecting the wrong gear, although it can be necessary to drop down a gear to get decent accelleration when trying to overtake another vehicle. As mentioned above, the rear end can be rather twitchy in the wet, and we try to avoid driving in the snow or ice at all costs. Because you only get around 300 miles from a full tank of petrol, it can be a thirsty and expensive car to run (the tank takes 50 litres of fuel). ~~~~~~~~~ Conclusions ~~~~~~~~~ Above all else, this car is fun. It's great to drive, nippy and responsive to a light touch. It's easy to control, with light steering and fantastic brakes, and grips the road like glue – so long as it's dry. There's nothing quite like putting the roof down and going for a drive on a hot summer's day, music blaring, picnic in the back. If you're looking for a convertible – and 4% of the cars sold in Britain are convertibles, despite us only having an average of 51 days of sun a year – that performs well but won't break the bank, then look no further. It really is a great car, and not just for hairdressers, either. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Further information ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Mazda MX5s are available from around £15000 (depending on your negotiating skills) new, or expect to pay around £10000 for one that's two or three years old. They hold their value relatively well. Expect to get between 25 and 40 mpg, dependi
ng on what sort of driving you're doing. The car takes 50 litres of fuel. www.mazda.co.uk (beware the evil Zoom Zoom music though) www.mx5oc.co.uk - the Mazda MX5 owners club in the UK. They have all sorts of information about the different models available, their specs and so on.
The MX5 is the first sports car I have ever owned. I have had several hot hatches (Golf turbo, Puma 1.7), but nothing like this. I did some research before making the purchase, and test drove similar cars such as the Toyota MR2 and Rover MGF. In the end, I chose the MX5 because it offered good performance, plenty of choice on the used market, and excellent build quality. By comparison, I found the MR2 quite expensive, and was put off the MGF by reports of poor quality on early models (friend of mine traded in her MX5 for an MGF and regrets it hugely!) I bought privately, and with my budget of £8000, I could just about afford a Mk2 model. This model has a better designed interior, a more powerful engine, and a glass rear window in the hood. The glass rear window comes with a demisting element, making it less prone to misting up than the plastic screens on older models. My car is a 1998 1.8 model, in Racing Blue Mica (a dark metallic blue). I did consider buying from a dealer, but it seems that Mazda dealers ask excessive prices for used MX5s as they know the cars are popular. By buying privately from autotrader.co.uk, I reckon I saved at least £1000. For the first few weeks, driving a convertible car is a huge novelty, and is great fun! Now the novelty has worn off to an extent, I still love it. It has been completely reliable, the hood is very easy to raise and lower, there is adequate headroom for me (6 ft tall), and it's great fun to drive. The boot is reasonably sized and is practically shaped, especially when compared with the MGF and MR2 which, being mid-engined, both have very small luggage compartments. When designing this car, Mazda aimed to capture the deisgn ethos of classic 60s and 70s two seaters such as the Lotus Elan and MGB. This retro approach is reflected in the basic equipment levels. You get twin airbags and electric windows, but there is no central locking, no electric mirrors, no electric aerial,
and the hood is manually operated (but it's still quicker to raise/lower than any electric hood - useful if it starts raining). This keeps the weight down, and helps Mazda retain some sports car credibility. I have owned the car for two years now, and the only gripes I have are that there is no air conditioning on this model (you need it when driving in warm weather with the hood up), the stereo gets drowned out with the hood down above 70mph (even with the windows up), and the gearing is quite low so the car turns over approximately 3500rpm at 70mph (= quite noisy!) I love the looks of the car, and the fact that it still attracts attention, even in London where convertibles are commonplace. And I love the driving experience, which is more about great handling and acceleration than outright top speed. And, in common with cars such as the new Mini and VW Beetle, there is strong camaraderie among owners and it's not unusual to get a smile or a wave from other MX5 drivers. Even in the winter, driving with the roof down is not a problem as the heater is shoe-meltingly powerful and does a good job of keeping hands and toes warm. Mazda offers a hard top for the MX5, but it costs over £1000 to buy. It is possible to buy these secondhand for less, but in my opinion the soft top does the job perfectly well. Hard tops arguably improve security, but they are awkward to store (the fasteners can be broken off if the top is stored on the floor, so some kind of wall-mounted storage is best) and it's a two person job to lift the hard top on or off the car. To anyone who is considering purchasing a used MX5, I would recommend looking at as many cars as possible! There are lots of cars out there, so you can afford to be choosy. Many MX5s are owned as second cars, so good condition and a low mileage are the norm. The MX5 has been around since 1989 and is mechanically well proven and reliable, so the main things to look out for are s
igns of neglect. The paint is easily scratched, so watch out for cars with scuffed bumpers and scratched doors, as this damage can be expensive to put right. Other weak points are common to most convertibles - look out for torn hoods, faded seats, mouldy interiors (caused by damp) and any signs of theft/vandal damage. There are many special editions with desirable extras such as alloy wheels and leather seats, which usually command a premium over the standard model, but don't pay too much - remember that you can fit a nice set of brand new alloys complete with new tyres to any MX5 for a few hundred pounds. In terms of costs, I feel the Mazda is very reasonable for a sporty car, and I believe it compares well with similar cars like the MR2 and MGF. The 5 year service earlier this year cost £200 at a franchised dealer, which I thought was OK, as it included an MOT as well. Depreciation is slow (I reckon I have lost less than £2000 in two years) and insurance is a reasonable group 13. Fuel economy is not too bad, and I get about 35mpg on a long run(less with roof down - something to do with effect on aerodynamics). The only danger on the costs front is that you might end up spending a fortune on modifications. So far, I have added a mesh grille to protect the radiator (£30 from mx5parts.co.uk - recommended), installed a cool flip-front JVC stereo, upgraded the speakers, fitted a set of Mazda "Stealth" alloy wheels (£350 inc fitting at Bourne Road Mazda www.mx5-mazda.co.uk), added some extra interior lights (to make passengers more welcome!) and cheekily wired up the amber side reflectors so they light up at night. There are several companies selling aftermarket parts for the MX5, and many owners like to customise their cars - but we like to think we do it with a bit more taste and restraint than the Nova/Saxo/Corsa kids! To sum up, I would definitely buy another MX5. In my opinion, the best model is the recent 1.8S model, which
comes with air conditioning and a 6 speed gearbox (therefore addressing two of my main criticisms of the car). When I'm thinking of changing cars in a couple of years, I'll probably be getting one of these...
I've been driving my MX5 for over a year and a half now. It's not the fastest car around, neither is it the flashiest or most comfortable. What it is is a good-looking, cheap to run, no worries, fun car. I really don't understand why everybody doesn't buy one. Well, I do. There's some common gripes about these cars: There's not much boot space, so you can't carry 5 bags of sand home from B+Q, and your significant other has to learn to go on holiday with only one small case. Good. Don't forget it's a two seater as well, so you can't spend half of your life giving people lifts. It's not very comfortable and the interior is a little plasticy. I don't particularly agree with either of these statements, especially remembering that it's an entry level sports car. It's a girls/hairdressers car. Only of concern to men with low self-esteem. It's actually a very, very capable car in terms of performance per pound. I think most people are familiar with the advantages of the car, which include low running costs, reliability, the roof comes down and it's the kind of car that can genuinely make you enjoy driving again. Nothing's perfect, of course, and I've had trouble with the car attracting idiots who like to damage it for a laugh. Also, the roof is getting a little old and makes the car look scruffy, but it's got a lot of life in it yet and it's not trivial to replace, so it's something I have to live with. A windblocker (usually a mesh screen which goes behind the seats) is a pretty good addition if you want to be able to talk to your passenger at speed with the roof down. There's loads of other less essential accessories available, but all pretty overpriced in my mind. If you're into this kind of thing, buy one with all the things already on it, it'll be much cheaper in the long run. Don't be wo
rried about buying an imported car, there's no problem getting parts and so on. The one difficulty you may have is with insurance, it will be more expensive. A lot of the big-discounting insurers won't even consider imports, the rest will charge a premium for no good reason. This may be prohibitive if you're a younger driver. Fuel consumption tends to be a function of how you drive it. 'nuf said. In terms of driving, the car is light and very well set up, so it's a nimble wee beastie. It excels around corners, rear-wheel drive adds to the fun. Engine is very buzzy, power really kicks in above 4500rpm. Disk brakes all round make it stop pretty sharpish, too. It's the kind of car that gives you the impression you're driving it a lot faster than you actually are - a very involved driving experience, plenty of feedback and unlikely to let go suddenly if you're really pushing it, which I'm sure you won't. If you decide you need to be on a motorway instead of redlining it along a twisty road, it'll cruise happily all day in 5th. Be aware that these cars can be pretty variable because of the modifications people make to them. Japanese imports are particularly prone. Some modifications can improve on an already capable basic car, a lot are for effect and can detract from it. Beware of oversized wheels, too stiff / low suspension and useless bolt-on power mods which reduce reliability. Also, if you want a car with a rollbar for safety reasons, those chrome hoops around the back of the seats are usually cosmetic only. The colours of a lot of the earlier cars are a little naff, but there's some good ones out there. There's plenty of these cars for sale, so look around and buy one you like. Mine's silver and looks great. In conclusion, it's a great looking car which drives like a go-cart, and takes the minimal of hassle and money to run.
I've owned my 1998 new-shape MX-5 1.8i for over a year now so I feel I've gotten over the euphoria that seems to come over anybody who owns a roadster for the first time. Like many people, I lusted over an MX-5 more than a TVR or a Boxster because its great looks and handling don't have a monster price tag to match. Still, it wasn't exactly cheap when I bought it as the second owner - £13.5K with 18,000 miles on the clock. Those were still the days when main dealers could afford to be sniffy about their customers - MX-5s were genuinely in demand and haggling proved pretty fruitless. Today however, the situation has turned around and dealers are trying hard for your business - so it's a good time to buy! Bear in mind though that the reputation that MX-5s used to have for defying the laws of depreciation has also been tarnished. Mine is now worth about 10K. So what's the car like? I won't go into great detail on the things that other people have mentioned - suffice to say the car handles like a go-kart, with superb cornering ability and peerless lack of body-roll in its class. With the low seating position and good feedback from the steering it's no wonder you see so many MX-5 drivers with the tell-tale perma-grin - they all imagining they're Michael Schumacher! Be warned though; this car is light and rear-wheel drive, which is a two-edged sword. If you don't know the car really well in the wet, be prepared to lose the back end at some time or other. Honestly folks, if you get an MX-5, get some good all-weather tyres (eg. Goodyear Venturas) because believe me, spinning on a wet corner or roundabout is no fun at all. All the MX-5 drivers I know have done this at some point, and we know from experience that the dry cleaning bills can be expensive! If the sun ever does come out though, the top goes down in a jiffy and you can pose to your heart's content. I've heard some people complaining th
at the roof is not automatic. Crazy talk! The roof is secured with two catches which are easily clipped and unclipped from the driver's seat - which means I can safely drop the hood in less than a second or raise it one-handed in two seconds. Many is the time I've seen other convertible drivers gape as I drop the hood like lightning at traffic lights - their slow automatic systems take so long they can't afford the wait (raising or dropping the hood while driving in any convertible is NOT advised! :) The season doesn't matter too much either. I've had country drives on crisp sunny winter days with roof down and felt snug enough with the powerful heaters stopping my toes from getting frostbite. Let me emphasise - the heater on this car is REALLY good. Also, the dinky fold-up windblocker which comes standard on 1.8 cars is quite effective. Just another quick point about the soft top - since 1998 a heated glass rear window comes as standard. This is superior to the naff plastic windows that can still be found misting up on other cars twice the price of the humble '5. And the roof doesn't leak in bad weather either. Thanks Mazda! The achilles heel of the mk2 MX-5 is the engine. A very rough and ready unit, it doesn't provide much torque at the low end of the rev counter. To get any gutsy performance out of it you really need to keep the revs up - and even then expect to be taunted mercilessly by anything from a TVR Cerbera to a Golf VR6. It is only a 4 cylinder 1.8 litre after all. The engine never sounds great either - you certainly won't be impressing anyone with the exhaust note. Another thing that really ticks me off about my car is the colour, which in 1998 was called Twilight Blue and I believe is now called Racing Blue Mica. A dark metallic blue which looked fabulous in the showroom, I quickly found out this is a terror to keep clean. Given the choice now, I would definitely favour a light metallic.
Also, the paint is very thin and at 37,000 miles my bonnet seriously could do with a respray due to stone chips. Other points to consider for my year and model are : - Fuel consumption isn't that great (seems to be ~30 mpg for me) - The seats aren't very comfortable for long journeys - The stock headlights aren't very powerful - The boot, while being appreciably better than the original MX-5, is still very shallow. (Still way better than those new MR2s though!). You can't go on holiday for two for more than a long weekend without getting a boot rack. - Lots of road noise, especially on motorways - Very hard suspension which can rattle the bones on badly finished roads - ABS standard on 1.8iS only In conclusion then, the MX-5 is an utterly reliable, value-for-money everyday roadster which in good weather can put a smile on the face of even the most miserable driver. It has its down-sides but in the most part these are acceptable given the nature of the car. Less brash and more pure than a (more expensive) Z3, and miles better looking (in my opinion) than the slab-sided MR2, it's still the people's drop-top. And in it's latest revised form, with new seats, interior trim, uprated VVC engine, standard ABS and a new, meaner looking snout, it's in even better form to see off the competition - until 2003 that is, when Mazda intend to replace it with an all-new car.
As the sun shines and the cold English winter fades to a distant memory what can be better then a sexy topless ………….. car! Well this year I finally decided that it was time to move from sports coupe to a full on two-seater convertible but not being what would be classed as the upper income bracket no chance of a Porsche Boxter or Mercedes SLK for me so the choice came down to three cars: The MGF, the MR2 Roadster or the MX5 Roadster. Following initial test drives we decided that the MR2 was ruled out as it had absolutely no storage space whatsoever so was not a practical option, but the handling and driveability nearly swung it. The MGF looked too dated inside, and that plastic rear window just makes putting the roof up and down a long-winded process. So it had to be the MX5. The main difference the MX5 has to the MGF and the MR2 is that it has a front mounted engine and rear wheel drive rather then the mid mounted engine, this gives it a classic sports car look. The current version of the MX5 is the Mark II a change in body style from the Mark I, the most noticeable feature change being the move from pop up style headlights to the glass teardrop, with a number of interior and safety specification upgrades. There are currently three main varieties of the Mark II a 1.6i, a 1.8i, and a 1.8is. The only noticeable external features to tell them apart are the 1.8is has an electric retractable aerial, mud flaps and sprayed alloy wheels as standard. The 1.6i and 1.8i look identical at a standard equipment level. On a technical note the 1.6i has a top speed of 118 mph and a 0 to 62 time of 9.7 seconds. The 1.8i and 1.8is share a top speed of 127 mph and reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.0 seconds. The major technical difference is that the 1.8is is the only car in the range to be fitted with ABS. Well I placed calls to a number of dealers for a used MX5 and drove a variety of
the cars then came the call. A black MX5 with so many optional extras it was untrue, leather, air conditioning, wood trim, custom alloy wheels, a hardtop for winter use and a full Mazda service history and at the right price. Well to say I was tempted would be an understatement, there followed a test drive, and I now believe in love at first sight! As a word of advice, never buy one of these cars without a full UK Mazda service history. There are a lot of imports on the market beware! Those built to British specification and imported from Northern Europe are fine but those built for Spain, Japan, and the Far East have slightly different specifications, for example you won’t be able to fit the nozzle from a UK petrol pump into the filler on the car and the conversion costs about five hundred pounds! The only downside to this particular car was that it is the 1.8i rather than the 1.8is model. As an ex demonstrator this car was so well equipped I decided to forego the ABS, having never used it on my three previous cars. The MX5 is a true drivers car, the accelerator is responsive to the slightest touch, the gears precise, and the short shift makes for quick changes through the gearbox. The low centre of gravity and the stiff suspension set up allow the car to be pushed with late braking entering, and fast acceleration exiting a bend. The steering wheel feels precise with good feedback from the 195/50 tyres sticking the car to the road. Not that I have driven this car hard at all! If you do not want to push this car the suspension although solid gives a smooth ride and, though noisier than a hardtop, the road noise with the roof up is better than most of the cars in this class. With the roof down and the air dam up to protect your neck the sensation is that of wind through the hair rather than the usual sandpapering of the ears, even with the windows down the shape of the car deflects the wind round and over the drive
r and passenger rather than directly onto them. The interior of this particular car has the leather and wood trim option giving black leather sports seats with a white piped trim and a lovely deep oak burnished wood trim around the centre console and air vents. Everything has been designed with the driver in mind, the switches are all easily reachable, the stereo well positioned so that you do not have to take your eyes too far from the road and the heater controls on two dials set at the flick of the wrist (no comments about wrist action thank you). Storage inside is provided by a lockable glove box which is massive, a lockable centre box that houses the remote boot and petrol flap release and doubles as an armrest for your passenger, a pocket behind the passenger seat, door pockets either side, and a pocket on the wind deflector. This car even provides two cup holders, but I’ll let you find them. I have mentioned the wind deflector or air dam a couple of times, this only comes as standard on the 1.8is model and is an expensive option from your Mazda dealer but believe me it is worth every penny. Drive any soft top vehicle without a dam and the wind whips the back of your neck causing it to ache and stiffen, put the dam up and you still feel the pleasant effects of a cool breeze but without the aches and pains. My car also has air conditioning. Now why do I need air conditioning on a soft-top car? I hear you ask, well, some days when stuck in traffic you need to put the roof up as the sun is just too hot and you can feel yourself frying. By the way suntan cream is an essential part of soft-top driving even on cloudy days with the roof down. On warm wet days and rainy winter days getting in the car with wet clothing on causes it to steam up pretty quickly as you will find with all cars of this size. Mazda provide several safety features: driver and passenger airbags, side impact door beams, and an in
tegrated roll bar. The dealer showed us some pictures of cars that had been involved in horrible accidents and in all cases the cockpit area remained the same size and shape as before the accident. An immobiliser is fitted as standard but you may wish to think about locking wheel nuts for your alloys and an alarm to scare off would be thieves. The storage on this class of vehicle is negligible at best but the MX5 has the biggest boot of all. We have managed to squeeze two good size holdalls into the boot with a couple of big coats, sorry golf fans your clubs will just not fit. As I said this model is the 1.8i and I really wanted a 1.8is so we decided on some cosmetic extras. We added the mud flaps and the nice chrome scuff plates along the top of the sills, an electric aerial was already fitted, along with central locking and voila the car now looks just like the 1.8is. If you want to personalise your Mazda there are unlimited accessories available from companies such as Moss International or Scimitar but I recommend you check out the MX5 owners club for their recommendations at http://www.aesthetica.com/ukmx5/ My next improvement will be a grill to cover the massive air intake below the number plate as this big hole makes a lovely target for stones to fly through and damage the car radiator. Well the first thing I did on buying this car was to go home and take the hardtop off, drop the roof and enjoy the sunshine, after covering myself in suntan cream. Driving along I noticed another MX5 approaching and what was that? a flash of the headlights and a wave, this was not an isolated incident either MX5 drivers are a friendly bunch it takes me back to my days of driving a Beetle. We have owned the car for a couple of weeks now and driven nearly a thousand miles, unheard of in the Huddro household and the one factor that makes me love this car more than anything I still cannot stop grinning when I drive it.
For more technical information you can visit the Mazda website at http://www.mazda.co.uk/ Update 8th August Well worth joining the owners club as you can make all sorts of useful contacts. I was advised to get a grill to cover the air intake in front of the radiator as Mazda don't fit grills (how strange is that?) Anyway I was recommended a company called Scimitar and picked up a lovely chrome grill at a very reasonable price. www.mx5parts.co.uk Owners club is www.mx5oc.co.uk Car is still running with no problems despite covering 3000 miles already !
I got one of these as soon as they came out a couple of years ago - managed to jump the waiting list a bit. Being in central London and having a car that nobody had seen before (new model) in June was great. Loads of people stared and a lot smiled. The car still looks great now there are loads of them on the road, but its one of those cars that looks quite ordinary if its not clean! As for the car itself, it was fantastic, plenty of speed, plenty of acceleration. We went in a convoy on French motorways with a BMW 535 and a TVR Chimaera and the Mazda didn't disgrace itself although after pushing it at 110Mph for an hour or two I looked like my head had been brylcreemed in a wind tunnel and the people in the BMW had been appreciating some very quiet classical music (the TVR had liquid pouring out of it). Its a comfy enough car, with enough boot space for 2 adults for a fortnight at a squeeze - this is due to the American insistence of using the golf bag as a unit of measure. The only drawback in my case was a couple of persistent rattles. The only reason we got rid of it was the fact that its a 2 seater and there are now 3 of us and its a decision we sometimes regret when the weather's a bit nice like today.
I love my MX-5. It's the first car I've ever owned that leaves me with a smile on my face when I get out of it even if I've been stuck in a traffic jam. Believe it or not, mine's actually a company car - so I don't have any problems with insurance etc. The only bad points that I'm aware of are as follows : 1) Limited boot-space ( even if you remove the spare wheel ). 2) Uncomfortable seats for long journeys. 3) Roof can leak. 4) On older models the plastic rear screen scrathes easily and can lead to being unable to spot the police car following you ! 5) Eats exhaust pipes ( 5 in 4 years ) though I've been told that this a peculiarity of my particular car. Odd that Mazda changed the design of the exhaust recently though, or am I just being cynical ? Good points are : 1) It just looks f***ing great. 2) From 0-60 there isn't an awful lot than can catch it. 3) Girls love it. 4) Predictable when pushed hard into corners. 5) Fantastic value for money.
People often see the MX-5 as a sporty little number for the girls. Having spent the last week cruising around, hood down in a period of rare sunshine, I can say that this car is greaaatttt!!!!!!!!! It grips the road like a beauty and has a great little punchy engine that just bursts away at the lights. It also catches the eye and looks sleek, sporty but most of all darn good fun. OK, it might not have the power of a Golf GTI but the feeling of almost sitting on the floor more than compensates for that. It may not feel comfortable at 100mph on the M1 but the speed limit is 70mph and it gets you to that speed with such a shot of adrenaline that you you just don't care. At around £6500 / £7000 you can get a MX-5 at only 4 years old and around 40 000 miles. It's not a so called 'Super car' with monstrous power but it is a super car that is a great little drive.