The MX-5 is the kind of car that tells you what it’s doing. The steering is precise, with nearperfect weighting for the level for performance. Every part of the car that you interact with feels tuned and set up by someone who knows what they’re doing and who likes driving. A true MX-5, then.
On circuit, where the Mazda frequently found itself, there was more roll and slightly less sharp handling than with a Sport version, but I found that altogether more endearing. You could still explore the car’s limits, and adjust it while it was there, but the car was as much fun to drive at seven-tenths as it was in all-out attack mode, such was the sweetness and delicacy of it all.
It was this track use that did for a lot of the tyres. Two fronts and two rears were seen off at different times due to extended circuit use, which prompted a switch to winter tyres all round at one point. This softened the drive even more and some testers even preferred the more buttery everyday usability. Admittedly, others hated it on winter rubber.
As good as it was on a circuit and on shorter trips, the MX-5 had its limitations on longer journeys. Although 100-milers were fine, 200-milers were less so. The cabin’s shrink-wrapped size began to grate on such journeys and it felt even more cramped with a passenger. The limited padding in the seat also led to, as the French say, a numb arse.
Opening the roof always helped, though. The MX-5’s roof is manual and a doddle to fling back and store in one swoop of the arm. The speed at which you could do it all depends on your strength. You might be able to battle the wind resistance and do it at 100mph if you’re a Russian athlete.
Problems? Surprisingly for a Japanese car with only 15,000 miles on the odometer, there were a couple. The stitching on one of the seats came unpicked. The tyre pressure monitoring system randomly turned itself on a few times before a check and a reset threw up no problems. And after a service that resulted in a software update for the infotainment system, the DAB radio reception became patchy.
On the subject of that infotainment system, the MZD-Connect set-up with a 7.0in screen is a lovely thing to use, chiefly because it doesn’t have a blasted touchscreen and you can control it with a nice big rotary wheel. Also, the few buttons around it are easy to learn and locate, making for a safe, intuitive drive.
Intuitive: now that’s a good word to describe the MX-5 as a whole. You look at it, hear the name and think: involving, fun-to-drive sports car. Mazda hasn’t disappointed. In fact, it’s better than ever, which is no mean feat in an era where we’re increasingly seeing car makers mess up their driving icons (Renault Sport Clio, silly dual-clutch automatic gearbox; Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster, silly turbocharged engine). The MX-5 remains an MX-5, and a better MX-5 at that.
We’ll miss it. Well, I will, but Steve Cropley won’t. He’s just bought the thing.