Dreaming of the summer: Mazda MX-5 generations driven at Goodwood - Mazda MX-5 generations driven at Goodwood - page 2

We take a spin back in time with the first three generations of Mazda MX-5

There’s not notably more chatter than my own ‘assisted’ car relays, but the precision is still there and there’s enough feedback to detect the front wheels pushing. The rear also slides – more easily at high speeds on a damp track than on a dry road – but the car’s balance is such that you can quickly account for slip at either axle, adjusting the car’s line with the throttle as much as the steering.

There isn’t the precision of newer cars – the Mk1 takes time to settle on its springs and there’s flex in the body too. In this respect it’s more like a classic car, and further incentive to drive smoothly rather than attempting to hustle it like you would a modern hot hatch.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

Throttle response is a different story. The engine reacts instantly, eliciting a sporty parp from the exhaust and a hint of induction bark from the engine bay. It’s eager too. The four-pot is almost masochistic in its desire for revs, while the tactile gearshift rewards every change. The 132bhp 1.8 isn’t notably quicker than the earlier, less powerful 1.6 – extra weight and taller gearing sees to that – but you don’t feel too short-changed by the lack of pace.

Surprisingly, the same applies even to the 1.6-engined Mk2 car waiting in the pitlane. These cars – of which this particular one is an ‘Arizona’ special edition – produced more power than the detuned final run of Mk1s, but with just 108bhp they still played second-fiddle to the 138bhp Mk2 1.8. Not only less potent, 1.6s also lacked the limited-slip differential of the 1.8s, and performance was offset further by the extra weight of the Mk2 body.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Proponents of the MX-5 will tell you that Mazda had begun to cut costs by the time the Mk2 arrived, in 1998, and while the cabin is more cosseting than its forebear’s, the curvy 1990s plastic does feel a little downmarket. After the Mk1, the leather-bound driver’s seat also seems to be mounted about half a foot too high.

> Head to page 3 to read more about the Mk2 MX-5


Most Popular


1700bhp Koenigsegg Gemera four-seat GT shown in new images

A mid-engined, plug-in hybrid two-door four seater is Koenigsegg’s vision of the ultimate GT
9 Apr 2020

BMW M5 F90 vs E28 M5, RS6, E500 and Lotus Carlton: supersaloons old vs new

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 and other classics taking on today's mo…
4 Apr 2020
Honda NSX

Honda NSX review - enough to take on its European rivals?

Honda’s supercar is immensely capable and startlingly fast, but it’s easier to respect than it is to love
6 Apr 2020
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019