THE Mazda MX-5 is one of the most iconic cars seen on our roads today. The main reason for its popularity was - and is due to the fact - that it combined the style and driving fun of classic British sports roadsters with the rock-solid reliability associated with Japanese vehicles. The recipe has remained largely unchanged for the MX-5; I recently had the opportunity to drive one for a week before attending the vehicle's introduction to the MX-5 Owners Club in Irene, Pretoria this past weekend.
Arriving at the event the first thing I noticed was a surprisingly large number of members in the MX-5 Club, some of which (luckily for me) decided to park on the beautiful lawns of the Irene Country Estate, whom made it easy to see the evolution of the MX-5 with all the generations next to one another.
Chatting with various members from the club I got the distinct impression that owning an MX-5 is a commitment, like marriage, whereas in the car world, we’re used to a whirlwind affair that lasts a few years before finding a new car. The MX-5 fraternity sees their cars as something to keep for an extended period - they even name them!
I also got the impression that each owner believes that his/her particular MX-5 shape/model is the best and why wouldn’t they? I tried to gauge which MX-5 was largely considered the best of the breed throughout the years but it became increasingly difficult among those arguing the purity of the early cars versus the usability and convenience of later cars.
The new MX-5
A week or so before the event, Mazda phoned me up and asked me if I would like to drive its latest creation. Obviously, I cleared my schedule to accommodate the roadster; it was sunny after all. I will publish a pucker road test soon however, for now, let me just say, the new car is simply astounding.
The styling polarised opinion among the current owners with some saying that it won’t appeal to existing MX-5 owners and others stating that the design is the perfect interpretation of a modern Mazda sports car; I tend to agree with the latter.
The sound, the feel, the proportions and just the way it makes you feel as a driver tells you that the engineers and designers at Mazda wanted to produce a true driver’s car. But unlike many drivers’ cars it isn’t compromised in terms of ride quality and creature comforts.
Local models come with many goodies that the enthusiast will enjoy, such as a limited slip differential, 17-inch alloy wheels and a free-revving 118kW/200Nm 2.0-litre motor, while the everyday user will enjoy the Bose sound system, leather seats, cruise control and seven-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth/USB/App compatibility and keyless entry.
I am a massive fan of the new MX-5; it manages to blend the dynamic, simplistic qualities of the original while still appealing to the driver who wants a stylish, usable and rewarding sports car.