Long term tests

Mazda MX-5 2.0i Sport Tech

Latest arrival at evo Towers is Mazda's MX-5, and early impressions are that it's lost none of the spark and fun of its predecessor

The convertible experience has well and truly found me this last month. Having never driven a drop-top before, I recently found myself behind the wheels of two different ones within the space of a few days. But it wasn’t the MX-5 you can see here that got to me first. That honour went to a mk1 MX-5, the car that claimed ninth place in the top ten shoot-out for last month’s ‘100 Greatest Drivers’ Cars’ feature.

When the car we used in that test needed picking up from Mr Barker’s house and returning to Evo Towers the following morning, I put my hand up for the job, keen to find out what all the fuss was about. So I was more than a little disappointed when I arrived to collect the car, which was on loan to us from Mazda, and discovered that it was a bit of a shed; each body panel was a different shade of red and there were marks and stains everywhere.

Yet ten minutes later I was grinning so much that my cheeks were starting to ache, because it drove beautifully. What a cracking little car it was, thoroughly deserving of its iconic status.

So it’s great to discover that the things that make the mk1 such a joy to drive – the accurate steering, the linear power, the positive gearshift – are all present in our new ‘mk3.5’ MX-5 long-termer. A £19,695 2.0i Sport Tech model, it also benefits from a slippy diff, Bilstein dampers, 17in alloys, cruise control, heated leather seats, air-con and a six-CD Bose stereo. We opted to skip the £1500 folding hard-top, though, as the canvas roof is child’s play to raise and lower and saves over 100kg, keeping the car’s centre of gravity low.

Quibbles? Well, the steering feels a bit too eager, although I expect I’ll get used to that; the canvas top already has a few marks on it, but they should be easy enough to remove; and because of the limited storage space, one of the cup holders is acting as my iPod dock, but that’s no biggy. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing here that can stop me continuing to enjoy my introduction to convertible life. Long may it continue.

Running Costs

Date acquiredAugust 2009
Total mileage3389
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month2221
MPG this month30.4

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