This week Steve took his Mazda MX-5 and Elan for a whirl in the Cotswolds to decide which one gets pole position in his garage. He also caught up with Autocar's ongoing task to digitalise our archive and got a peek of the future of Lotus.
Bit of Cotswolds fun: an impromptu comparison between my 2015 Mazda MX-5 and the 1991 Lotus Elan M100 I bought a few months ago. We’re limited for garaging at home, and I’ve always preferred to keep ‘resting’ soft-top cars out of the sun/rain so I rent storage nearby. The Lotus will soon need preparation for a bit of motorsport and is also making a summer concours debut, so the Mazda, freshly valeted, needed to make way. All of which required a 20-mile round-the-houses sprint, out in one, back in the other.
The cars’ road footprints are very close but otherwise they’re dramatically different. The Mazda’s nose is longer; you sit further back in the car. The Lotus cabin is the roomier. And there’s the front-versus-rear-wheel-drive handling thing, of course, with the Mazda predictably more adjustable in hard cornering. Lotus’s 1.6 turbo engine needs much more revs than the 2.0-litre normally aspirated Mazda, but the pair match performance almost perfectly. The Lotus ride comfort is eerily brilliant for a 30-year-old car, and the vaunted front suspension geometry designed to kill wheel fight under power works perfectly. The Mazda will have to fight to win back pole position in the home garage.