A drunken conversation about how I’d never piloted an MX-5 led to the lovely folks at Mazda loaning me one for a week.
The fact I’d never driven one meant, for a while, that I subscribed to the stereotypical notion that it was for hairdressers, gay men and girls. But that was in my youth, which was a while ago and since then I realised a few things. Most importantly – I was wrong.
‘My’ car was a 2.0-litre Sport Tech with just the right amount of power and a bright red paint job. It certainly got me noticed. Especially because it’s November and I drove everywhere with the roof down. Everywhere. Unless it was raining. Living in London means driving at 70mph to dodge the wet stuff isn’t really an option and I didn’t fancy turning the MX-5 into a £20k bath.
I’m not going to go on about prices and exact power here – because that’s not what this is about.
I’ve never had the opportunity to steer a ‘classic’ British roadster, but I’ve heard them, seen them, listed after them and been a passenger in them. The open top nature, noise and feeling left an impression – something which helped my career choice, naturally.
When a motoring journalist extended a challenge to manufacturers in his column: make a British Roadster, Mazda took him up on it. They designed it, hired him for development and Mazda Experiment 5 was born. Its ‘cute’ looks, easy driveability and low price tag meant that lots of girls bought it. And, apparently, hairdressers.
So, the MX-5 has thus far been unfairly tarred with the ‘camp’ brush – despite glowing press reviews. The images stuck though. Friends commented that I was changing jobs to do people’s hair.
Then I offered them a lift. That shut them up.
The MX-5 steers brilliantly. Unlike pretty much everything on the road (sub £25k, of course). Point it where you want to go, press the go pedal and you’re away. Simple. There’s all of no understeer and despite what many said on Twitter – no oversteer (I’ll be scribbling something on that soon).
The engine gives just the right amount of grunt. You can’t get yourself into too much trouble with it – which is a good thing, because it’s quite revvy and makes a decent noise. Something which I like to hear.
Inside is nice an organised, if a little small. There are cubby holes in all the right places and just enough room to fit in phones, CDs, wallets and other such sundries. It’s a little origami-ish, actually. I rather like it. The only real issue I had was folding myself in and out of the blasted thing. I’m not overly bendy.
Taking the roof down was a doddle, too. Unclip from the front, lift outside and fold into the cubby hole. Nice and easy. The fact that it’s manual rather than electric means two things – less weight and less to go horribly (and expensively) wrong.
But here’s the rub, I like mucking about in cars as much as the next guy and the dinky Mazda was more fun than it should have been. Seemingly another level of accessible automotive awesome I’d missed out on. My only problem (aside from motorway noise – seriously, it’s horrid)? The usual… Money. Blast.
In all seriousness – if you’ve not driven one, do. You’ll realise that hairdressers are very, very lucky people.