Test Drive: The New Mazda MX-5
Ian Lamming braves the winter temperatures to go topless in a timeless classic
HOW people scoffed when I asked for and received a soft-top sports car in the winter.
What could go wrong? Roads like toboggan runs, rear wheel drive and 184PS. And wouldI really put the hood down on the Mazda MX-5 when the outside temperature was low enough to freeze peas?
Perhaps it was the fact that this particular MX-5 was the 100TH anniversary special and came in a lovely white with a cherry hood that sent the blood coursing to my extremities making me giddy. Anyway, hang the doubters I’m off for a drive.
Strangely, the MX-5 is a great car in the cold. The letterbox windscreen is small so takes very little scraping and heating through with the demist. Then the 100th anniversary model comes with some darn fine bum warmers to heat the cherry red leather sports seats to chestnut roasting temperatures, while the aircon is nice and efficient blowing warm gusts just where you need them.
The manual hood is down in a flash; one flick of a handle and it’s down forming an instant tonneau cover where it drops. If you keep your windows up you barely notice a drop in temperature but it is nice, for the full effect, to lower the side glass. Just make sure you direct the face vents on to your hands to keep them toasty in the 10-to-2 position.
All that in place and you can hear the pleasant tones from the exhaust and start to enjoy the MX-5’s unique and adorable nature.
When conditions underfoot are tricky modern day cars are not your friend because they cosset too much to the point of numbness. You tend to float along insulated from the black stuff oblivious to what is lurking around the corner.
Not so with the MX-5; it is and always has been a great seat-of-the-pants car and, through your cheeks, feet and hands, you can tell exactly what is going on down on the road. In slushy, icy and snowy conditions this is a real life saver and despite being rear wheel drive it allows you to tiptoe through the wintry conditions in a most unexpected but welcome fashion. There’s not so much as an anxious moment going up or down hill or along the flat.
The other strength, which I’d forgotten about, is how much fun this little go-kart is at ridiculously low speeds. Down country lanes between 40 and 50mph it remains a complete hoot to drive and you find yourself with a big daft smile across your chops.
Still Mazda has had plenty of time to develop its motors and that’s why this particular MX-5 is a collector’s item celebrating 100 years.
The 100th Anniversary model features lustrous ‘Snowflake’ white pearlescent paint – so don’t get stuck in a snowdrift – a glorious burgundy interior and unique badges.
Its contrasting ‘two-tone’ exterior/interior look was inspired by the exterior of Mazda’s first car, the R360 coupe.
You will also love the unique 100th Anniversary badge featuring on the burgundy floormats, on the key fob and embossed into the headrests. Outside, the same badge is on the wheel centres and the side of the car.
You will also have the pleasure of owning one of just 100 cars being released and each vehicle comes with a bespoke key presentation box given to new owners on vehicle handover and a beautifully crafted, limited edition book documenting the 100th anniversary of Mazda, not to mention a 1:43 model of the Mazda R360 that inspired the range. Love it.
Launched in 1960, the Mazda R360 was the firm’s first production car, a stylish coupe micro-car that proved to be a huge sales success.
I have always had a soft spot for the MX-5 and thankfully it is so accomplished that this didn’t turn out to be a drift. Perceptions would have it that the roadster is only for the summer months but this 100th Anniversary special soon proved that it is very much a car for all seasons. Scoff no longer you doubters.
Mazda MX-5 2.0 184ps 100th Anniversary
Engine: 2.0 petrol
Top speed: 136mph
0-62mph: 6.5 secs
Combined MPG: 40.9
Transmission: Six-speed manual
CO2 g/km: 161