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Mazda MX-5 review – A Holiday Romance

Several years ago (okay many years ago), I was young and single and used to holiday in the Mediterranean Islands every summer. Ibiza (before it was the rave capital of the World) Kos, Majorca etc all featured on my hot hit list of places to go to relax, rejuvenate and (all going well) find romance. There is something about going on holiday that really changes your mindset; especially when you add in the sun, sand and great company. Getting away from it all seems to drop your guard and enjoy the moment you are in (rather than overthinking everything) and focus on the special things, the more personal things, the more YOU things.

Having the MX-5 for a week brought these feelings of my holidaying youth flooding back. For me; top down driving is a form of driving escapism, it’s freedom, it’s sun, it’s fresh air and when you throw in a manual gearbox (something else popular as I grew up) it really up’s the entire experience. I forget about my day to day issues and simply concentrate on the enjoyment of driving.

I had been lucky enough to have the 1.5L for a few days before getting the 2L and it was a good way to compare the two. The 1.5L is a special car, it could be said that it’s not too powerful but that close to the ground and the way that it handled I hardly missed it at all. You do tend to be driving up near the top end of the rev range but that just adds to the enjoyment.

However, the 2L has the added engine strength that I wanted, plus a few more ‘luxuries’. Sat Nav on the 7” colour screen. Bose Stereo with headrest speakers (feels like surround sound and helps with top down phone calls). The top of the doors are bodywork colour coded (it’s a small thing but it does make a difference). Heated leather seats, larger wheels at 17”, greater proximity keyless entry and rain sensing wipers.

Then there’s the engine. 118kW and 200Nm may not sound like massive numbers coming from a 2L engine but when you are in a car that only weighs 1,033kg’s and you are only about a foot off the ground and whizzing (and I mean WHIZZING) around corners without a care in the world; these numbers are just fine and dandy.

The Mazda MX-5 is a roadster that you can really connect with. You fall for its good looks and its personality. It makes you smile (almost giggle) when you drive it and believe me, you want to DRIVE it. (This makes me wonder why it has cruise control – maybe if I had it for longer?) The compactness of the cabin (it is a snug fit) means that EVERYTHING is within reach but the position of the cup holders takes a bit of a contortionist to get to – in fairness, I’m not sure where else you’d put them though.

The driver’s seating position puts you borderline lower than the MX-5’s magnificent bonnet arches and it has the classic long nose short rear design that every sports car should have. At 130 litres the boot space is actually greater than I first gave it credit for, certainly enough for a couple of soft bags and gear for a romantic weekend away.

I have the pleasure of living outside the city walls and (as promised by Mazda NZ) the sun was blazing down for all bar one day of my week behind the wheel. The often usual drudge of time spent travelling to work was transformed into a ‘time away’ window of alone time, a chance for the MX-5 and I to woo each other and woo we did. As I closed the door to the family (and before opening the door in the office) One latch brought in the sun as I folded back the roof followed by the push button that fired up the engine.

The manual 6 speed box has a close gait and smooth engagement, it feels sporty as it races up the rev range and up the gears and the dab of the accelerator as you rev match before braking is endorphin releasing to the fullest. It’s really well balanced and gets your heart racing on rural bends.

Roof up visibility is ok, probably the best Mazda can do with the constraints they have but let’s face it, at under 4 metres in length (and a shade over 1,000kg’s in weight) it’s not a big car to manage regardless of the situation. Although it’s never really great to see rain clouds when you have a convertible roadster, the day that it did pour down did give me the chance to see the other side of living with this car – I can happily report that it’s fine – just make sure you avoid ‘blind spot’ driving, like I said it’s a small car.

In our brief time together we managed to cram in a variety of experiences. We spent some time at the beach, the country and the city. We had gone for long drives to the park and even had some lunches together (we chose drive thru’s of course). We laughed (well I did) and roared, we went fast and lived care free for a glorious seven days – but as with most summer romances it did come to an end and I had to return the car, SIGH. I still have the memories and of course the holiday snaps to share!

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