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.

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.

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

Recommended

2022 BMW M2 spied testing on the Nürburgring
BMW M2 spies July 21
BMW M2

2022 BMW M2 spied testing on the Nürburgring

We've finally seen the all-new 2-series in full, but here's our best look yet at the range-topping M2
15 Jul 2021
Lotus Emira makes world debut – all-new coupe to rival Alpine A110
Lotus Emira
Lotus

Lotus Emira makes world debut – all-new coupe to rival Alpine A110

Lotus's first all-new car for a quarter of a century comes AMG power and sub-£60,000 price tag
13 Jul 2021
All-new BMW 2-series revealed – M240i tops range, M2 still to come
BMW 2-series 2021 – front quarter static
BMW 2 Series

All-new BMW 2-series revealed – M240i tops range, M2 still to come

Boxy, brutish and exactly the type of BMW we all want to see, the all-new 2-series Coupe is here
6 Jul 2021
2022 Toyota GR 86 coming to Goodwood Festival of Speed
2022 Toyota GR86 FoS
Toyota GT 86

2022 Toyota GR 86 coming to Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Toyota GR 86 will have its public and dynamic debuts at this year's FoS
24 Jun 2021

Most Popular

Litchfield Toyota GR Yaris 2021 review – superstar hatchback picks up expert UK-tuning
Litchfield Toyota GR Yaris – front cornering
Toyota GR Yaris

Litchfield Toyota GR Yaris 2021 review – superstar hatchback picks up expert UK-tuning

Litchfield’s been fiddling with Toyota’s brilliant GR Yaris with predictably fantastic results
31 Jul 2021
Car pictures of the week
Bishops Heritage Range Rover – rear tracking
Land Rover

Car pictures of the week

An epic Bishops Heritage Range Rover Restomod stars in this week's gallery
30 Jul 2021
Mercedes S-class 2021 review – the ‘best car in the world’ just got better
Mercedes S-class – front tracking
Mercedes

Mercedes S-class 2021 review – the ‘best car in the world’ just got better

It may be slipping out of fashion, but the institution that is Mercedes’ S-class is only getting stronger
22 Jul 2021