Long term tests

Mazda MX-5 2.0i Sport Tech

Back to school as Shorrock and his Mazda MX-5 head to CAT Driver Training for some expert tuition

Brave isn’t a word I’d use to describe my driving style. It’s true that in the time I’ve had the Mazda I’ve had some amazing drives and my confidence has grown, thanks largely to the car’s forgiving nature, but recently I felt that I had reached a point where my skills weren’t progressing any further. I needed help from an expert.

Our very own ‘Ask the Experts’ expert, Colin Hoad of CAT Driver Training (catdrivertraining.co.uk), was recommended to me by staff writer Stephen Dobie, who had received some car control tuition from Colin last year. Stephen had clearly enjoyed himself, because he decided he’d come along with me for a refresher when it was my turn. This could mean only one thing: competition.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Subscribe now and get your first 5 issues for £5 or buy the latest issue in all good newsagents!

Both of us were trying to cap our excitement at the prospect of driving a Caterham flat-out around Millbrook’s handling circuit, and we were soon brought down to earth by starting the day in a Focus. Happily we quickly progressed to rear-wheel drive with a Lotus Elise, in which we explored the challenge of threshold braking on the mile straight. We then moved on to the famous two-mile bowl to practise observation and constant-radius steering.

Having honed our skills, it was finally time for us to get behind the wheel of the Caterham. The narrow, twisty handling circuit was the perfect place to put everything we had learned to the test – executing hard threshold braking before corners, balancing and steering the car with the throttle and always looking ahead for the next obstacle. The main difference I noticed between the tiny, nimble Caterham and my Mazda was how much extra information you receive from sitting so close to the rear wheels. Able to feel the slightest lateral movements, I felt more inclined to push the throttle harder than I would ever dare in the MX-5.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

As the day drew to a close, Stephen and I badgered Colin to disclose which of us was the better driver. Colin tactfully explained that we were level pegged. Stephen was apparently more ‘technical’ on the brakes, whereas I was ‘braver’ carrying speed through corners. (You can read Stephen’s account of the day by clicking here.)

Driving home in the MX-5, consciously keeping a consistent steering angle mid-corner and using the accelerator to balance the car out of bends, I had one of my most confident and rewarding drives yet. Thanks, Colin.

Book your place or find out more about CAT's courses here

Running Costs

Date acquiredAugust 2009
Total mileage12,523
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month726
MPG this month31.5
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/mazda/mx-5
Mazda MX-5 convertible

Mazda MX-5 review

29 Mar 2019
Visit/mazda/mx-5/22117/mazda-mx-5-30th-anniversary-edition-revealed
Mazda MX-5 convertible

Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition revealed

5 Mar 2019
Visit/mazda/mx-5/16038/mazda-mx-5-ten-of-the-best-from-30-years-of-mazda-s-sports-car
Mazda MX-5 convertible

Best Mazda MX-5 special editions

11 Feb 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/porsche/911/201958/porsche-911-gt3-vs-gt3-rs-vs-gt2-rs-track-battle
Porsche 911

Porsche 911 GT3 vs GT3 RS vs GT2 RS - track battle

Porsche’s GT3, GT3 RS and GT2 RS are the most hardcore of the 911 breed, but pitched head‑to‑head which will we crown champion?
15 Nov 2019
Visit/buying-advice/19675/used-car-deals-of-the-week
used cars

Best used cars for sale this week

We’ve delved into the classifieds and chosen our favourite cars for sale this week
15 Nov 2019
Visit/ferrari/201950/new-ferrari-roma-612bhp-198mph-gt-car-joins-the-range
Ferrari

New Ferrari Roma: 612bhp, 198mph GT car joins the range

Ferrari has expanded its GT car range with the V8 powered Ferrari Roma
14 Nov 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019