Before my recent week with the Mazda MX-5, I’d only driven an MX-5 once. It was roughly ten years ago, in my friend’s father’s car, and I remember the experience like it was yesterday. We took a wrong turn in Bayview en route to McCarrs Creek Rd, and I pulled over to do a U-turn on a gravel shoulder and gave the accelerator a decent taste of my shoe as I swung the wheel over. When the little silver MX-5 regained traction, rocketed forward and tucked into the next roundabout, I wondered how much more fun you could have in a car. Fast forward to a 29-year-old me, with the top down, sporting an ear to ear grin as I catch a short slide out of a tight uphill corner along The Lakes Way, and the answer is clear. As far as driver enjoyment goes, it doesn’t get much better than the Mazda MX 5 GT Roadster.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out how to approach this article because I think it’s important to address the elephant in the room. Yes, this car cops a lot of heat and unfortunately, while I’m on this earth, I think it always will. In the past, the Mazda MX-5 has appealed to a particular clientele, one of whom I encountered while piloting my own press car. It could have been a scene out of a movie when I encountered the same Candy Red Mazda MX 5 GT coming towards me in Cremorne, driven by a 60-year-old woman, with the top down, in a purple sun hat. As she passed she waved and made a ‘look at our matching cars gesture’ – I couldn’t help but laugh.
But why is it that the Mazda MX-5 has earned such a cliche reputation, and no other sports car. I pulled up next to a boring-looking middle-aged woman in a new Carrera 4S last week and thought she was a boss. It certainly didn’t make me think any less of the car. When I think more about the woman in the purple sun hat, she deserves some admiration for purchasing her dream MX-5, and not opting for a sensible Hyundai i20 – even if she did buy the car in automatic and based solely on its looks.
At the end of the day, you should purchase the vehicle that will deliver you the most satisfaction (bank account included). If you buy a product of any type, for any other reason than this, you will forever nurse a feeling of regret.
In an effort to sustain your attention after my small rant, I’ll say this. The Mazda MX-5 Roadster GT is one of the most enjoyable cars I’ve ever driven, regardless of price. The amount of enjoyment you get out of a sub $40k package is incredible.
For a whole week I smiled, every time I saw it, got into it, drove it. I said in my Instagram post that I can’t believe there aren’t more on the road in Sydney – I’m still shocked. Aside from its inability to carry more than two people or a surfboard (I could still make it work I think), it is the perfect car. A posh, road legal go-kart, with a wonderfully simple convertible roof, attractive interior, perfectly acceptable boot, SEAMLESS Bluetooth, driver feel that rivals a Porsche and an accessible price tag. It’s like an everyday Caterham.
Of course, the only option is to go for the manual, so you can drive it how it was designed to be driven, on the limit. It’s insatiable around the city and can be enjoyed without driving dangerously. Unlike many of the elite cars we’ve featured, where the adrenalin comes from planting the accelerator, the MX-5 is about driving – cycling through the gears, feeling the acceleration, the grip and the road. This is exactly why Mazda created a 1.5L version of the car because it doesn’t need any more power in the city.
My press car was the GT version, aimed at those looking for a little bit more luxury with leather trim, BOSE audio and 17inch wheels. It also features a 2.0-litre engine for those who want to tackle a few more highway kilometres. Wanting to sample the car to its full capabilities, I decided it would join us alongside the Land Rover Discovery Sport for a weekend up at Boomerang Beach. With the boot packed with a weekend duffel, two backpacks, some spearfishing fins and some camera gear I navigated the Friday afternoon traffic and burst onto the highway. On the open road, the MX-5 was as solid as a rock, supremely capable and unbelievably comfortable at speed.
As we turned off the highway, onto Lakes Way with the sun setting and the top down, I revelled in how good it had been on the highway, before letting the little smile machine do its thing through the bends for 40km. When I pulled into the Boomerang Recreational Club and locked the convertible top into place, I was shaking. The last time I felt like that was when I stepped out of the Lamborghini Huracan, but I can assure you I wouldn’t have left that in the Reccy car park overnight. And therein lies the beauty of the MX-5.
Forget the past and forget the stereotypes. If you value the thrill of driving, or call yourself a driving enthusiast, and don’t go and drive the Mazda MX 5 GT before deciding on your next purchase, you’re only cheating yourself. You will not find a more rewarding car for your money.
If we gave cars ratings on TVG, I’d give this one a 5. Out of 5.