Tag Archive | "Mazda MX5"

The Future of Sports Cars

“The pursuit of high performance is over, Grasshopper. Accept that the seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past. The truth lies at your local Mazda dealer.” These being the wise words of Master Po – (look it up if you are a non-believer).

The facts are these: Our roads are full to the brim with traffic and regulated beyond imagining by many laws. The cost of motoring is such that most drivers are seeking new answers to be able to stay on the roads at all. If you cannot afford a powerful sports car it doesn’t matter so much but even if you can, in the UK at least, you won’t be able to use much of that performance in any meaningful way.

It didn’t use to be like this. There was a time when driving was a simple pleasure and boy-racers everywhere strove to get their 0-60 time below a pedestrian ten seconds. In short, cars weren’t especially fast and yet motoring was fun. Owning a useable sports car (and discounting the fragile supercars of the time) meant driving a Triumph Spitfire or an MGB and savouring the open road. No doubt those good chaps at Mazda at some point noticed the demise of the small affordable roadster and came up with the wonderful MX5. In various iterations this great car has been with us since 1989 and yet it has never been bettered in its class.

With sales approaching one million, Mazda have re-worked the car and the latest version is the best yet, although some say it has become a bit soft as it nods towards modern requirements. There it is in the picture. As before it’s the usual front engine, rear-wheel drive layout and the oily bits remain pretty much the same. There’s a 1.8L developing 124bhp, ideal for cruising, or a more powerful 2.0L with 158bhp – which is more than enough in a small, light car – for those whose right foot gets twitchy at the sight of a snaking black-top. The MX5 does have some new additions, though, the most important being a new pedestrian protection system of the pop-up bonnet type. All this and approaching 40mpg as well – as long as you are not too heavy footed.

In an interesting new development Mazda has gone and got itself engaged to that Italian floozy, Alfa Romeo. It seems that Alfa want to sell a version of the next generation MX5 but dress it in in one of their floaty frocks. Hairdressers should rejoice. Italian styling with Japanese reliability – it has just got to be a winner.

So, the MX5 – not especially quick then, but today it doesn’t really matter, does it? This car is about good old down-to-earth driving pleasure. In these days of self-driving Euro-boxes that’s got to worth something to any driver with blood in their veins; and it should cost less than £25k for a new one depending on the model. Driving enjoyment in 21st Century Britain.

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Sports Car Trends

We’ve all seen articles that exhort the thrills to be found on the greatest driving roads…in the world. We’ve seen three ageing men completely fail to inhibit their inner boy (actually that probably applies to all men) and go hurtling off in a variety of supercars to exciting and exotic destinations. Meanwhile, most British motorists are stuck in a jam – in the rain – thinking: if only.

In Britain we do not have access to such roads. Those that are celebrated – like the Cat ‘n’ Fiddle in the Peak District – are now heavily restricted, mostly thanks to our two-wheeled brethren unfortunately killing themselves. Unrestricted it would be a glorious stretch but those days are gone, alas. This country does have some dramatic blacktop but these are well known both to the law and to tourists which means that otherwise spectacular routes like the Pass of Llanberis in North Wales are either choked with holiday traffic or festooned with walkers.

As if through some form of extra-sensory perception, car manufacturers are thankfully beginning to produce cars that are fun to drive but without the high performance and expense. We are all aware of the excellent Mazda MX5 of course. It has been around for years and each new model gets better and better. The latest one is lighter too, giving improvements in both performance and economy and all this for £24k or less, depending on model choice.

Not to be outdone, Toyota and Subaru put their heads together and came up with the GT86/BRZ pairing; more or less identical twins that properly bring back the words ‘old school’. Good, old fashioned front engine / rear wheel drive combination for balance and road holding and all for well less than £30,000. Scroll back through these pages for more information on both these cars.

Not unreasonably BMW felt that Europe should get in on this action and they have appear to have cracked it with a variation on an existing model. The Z4 two-seater roadster has been refreshed and an additional model with a lower powered version of the existing two litre motor has been added to the range. Less horse power maybe but most drivers will be happy with the sheer driveability of the thing and, as a bonus, 40+ mpg. Yours for around twenty eight thousand (pictured).

Let’s not forget the Audi TT. This car has a slightly blemished reputation as a bit of a hairdresser’s car but it can still hold its own with the newer opposition and shouldn‘t be overlooked. The 1.8 TFSI Sport is quicker, more frugal and a bit cheaper than the Z4. Both are out soon.

Thanks to these great cars the pleasure of driving does not have to be completely lost. Even on this small island there’s fun to be had on twisting country roads where balance and handling matter more than hair-raising speed. For enthusiasts there is no better sensation than a car well-driven. So go old school and dig out your Dad’s leather driving gloves (the ones with cooling holes at the knuckles that were once de rigueur for hot car fans) and find your own great driving road. It might be just a round the corner.

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