The weather's getting warmer so it's time to ditch the winter tyres, although not everyone’s happy about it

Winter has been and gone. Well, it never really arrived, from memory.

Anyway, you may recall that we put winter tyres on the MX-5 in anticipation of something Baltic, and to see how this affected the handling and usability, if at all.

In day-to-day driving, the winter tyres — Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32s — arguably made the MX-5 an even sweeter thing to drive.

Our car is SE-L Nav spec and not Sport, so it does without sports springs, and the softer compound of the winter rubber and standard springs made for an even more supple ride.

The extra squidge in the sidewall softened the initial steering response a touch but without affecting the overall precision.

As for their ‘winter’ performance, you could still have fun at a roundabout and not end up in a ditch, and when it did sort of snow a little bit once, I also managed to keep myself off the local travel news, which was surely all down to the tyres.

Colleague Matt Saunders wasn’t content with finding out what they were like on the road, so he took them on the track as well. He reported that the tyres made the handling “a bit more lively, with a bit of slip from both ends but just as adjustable and responsive”.

He also said you had to be a little more judicious with the throttle out of corners to avoid oversteer and wheelspin. Saunders reckons he’d happily drive around on winter tyres all year round unless regular track time was involved.

He’s out of luck, though, because they’ve already been replaced.

Rather than giving up a morning at the local tyre fitters, we again chose to use the firm, whose service is exactly as the name suggests.

Our Verdict

Here is the fourth-gen Mazda MX-5 - the definitive small sports car

Fourth-generation MX-5 heads back to Mazda's roadster's roots, surpassing its predecessor in every area

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Two friendly chaps, Chris Huggins and Leon Williams, spent an hour swapping the winter rubber back to summer tyres, in the process checking the brake discs and pads were all safe and legal and ensuring the alloy wheels were in good condition and all balanced properly before fitting them again.

The service was swift, hassle-free and efficient, much like life with the MX-5.

Soft-top clean up

One of the MX-5’s recent jobs was a starring role in our Top 50 new cars feature, for which a visit to a hand car wash was in order.

I’ve always wondered if soft-tops need special treatment, so I asked. The chap smiled, pulled out a special bottle and gave the roof a good wipe. It looked as good as new, so I’ll take that as a yes.

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The perfect weekend car?

First report

Mazda MX-5 2.0i SE-L Nav

Mileage 10,597 Price £20,685 Price as tested £21,335 Economy 41.9mpg Faults None Expenses None

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9 May 2016
I found fitting Dunlop WinterSport 5s to my Civic made for a more comfortable and enjoyable drive, though I think much of that was down to going from 17 inch to 16 inch wheels, however I noticed a significant deterioration in their performance above 10-12 degrees. The car felt much less stable on the motorway and needed constant corrections which it didn't need when the weather was colder. I'm not surprised at this, but I wouldn't want to run winter tyres all year round.

9 May 2016
I would be surprised if the winter tyre would perform well for braking in summer conditions. I question whether insurers might take a dim view over using a tyre like this all year round in UK. Has the car been modified in any way? Could prove a tricky one to debate. False economy too, I suspect, as winter tyres are meant to work well down to 4mm of tread, and the softer compound would wear more quickly, so I would anticipate the tyre bill would escalate. Mark T, you did the right thing.

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