That it cost as much as £28,000 is down to two things. First, Chris wanted it to come with a two-year warranty, which added £2000 to the price, but it did mean peace of mind and the car went through a 111-point service before he took custody of it.
Secondly, as with most Boxsters, its original owner didn’t skimp when specifying it in the first place. The vast options list includes – deep breath – a Sport Chrono Pack Plus, leather seats, embossed headrests, a wind deflector, PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission with sports steering wheel and shift paddles, a Comfort Pack, heated seats, park assist, an Infotainment Pack, auto air-con and 18in Cayman wheels. Many of those are £1000-plus options, and although I don’t have Porsche’s 2011 configurator to hand any more, it’s a fairly safe bet that together they’d have added the best part of 10 grand to the £35,000 or so list price of the time. To those options, Chris has since added twin round exhaust pipes, because – and I agree with him – he thinks they look cooler.
At the time, as now, there wasn’t a better sports roadster than the Boxster, and we figured that the 2.9 was as good a bet as the 3.4-litre Boxster S. But, as now, the Porsche was more expensive than a Mazda that, back then, wasn’t as delicious as the one on offer today, if you follow. So the MX-5 could draw blood.
There are two things I want to know, then: which of the two is the more recommendable car to buy now, and which is the better sports car now? I have a hunch that I know the answer to both things, but it’ll want a back-to-back test to know for sure.
The Mazda, then, has the advantage of being new. That means its rubber bits and joints and bushes are all new, too, and that, I often find, makes a big difference to the way a car drives. New cars feel tight and responsive, in the way they were designed to. That the MX-5 is so new, of course, means we don’t know how well it’ll last and we don’t know what, if anything, will go wrong with it.
But in the past, MX-5s have had good reputations. Buy a new one and you’ll get a three-year/60,000-mile warranty – and if you drive 60,000 miles in three years in one, you’re a better person than I am, because the fact that there are great things about the Mazda being small doesn’t mean there aren’t some downsides, too.
First, you feel rather like you’re sitting on it, not in it. The seats don’t adjust for height and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, so you end up perched and the wheel can feel too far away.
Otherwise, ergonomics are good. Everything is in the right place, because there aren’t that many things to put in the wrong place. Worried about glovebox ergonomics? It doesn’t have one. Hence it weighs 1075kg, which is remarkable for a new car.I still remember the glee on a Mazda engineer’s face when, before he and his colleagues had released any specs, he asked me to guess how much a basic 1.5-litre car weighed. “About 1100kg?” I asked, thinking I was being optimistic. “Less than 1000!” he said. “Extraordinary,” I thought, then as now.