July 18, 2011

Mazda MX-5

We have heard how great and reliable the MX-5 can be.  BBC’s Top Gear drove one across a war zone in the Middle East.  We didn’t quite get this one to a war zone, but the pot-holed road of our community lake was as close as we were willing to get.  The saleslady told us about a 1990 MX-5 that has over 400,000 miles on it.  WE take everything with a grain of salt from salespersons, but even if it’s half true, it’s still impressive.  We didn’t drive this one that far, but we see how someone could.

The interior of this MX-5 is truly hideous. It is a Limited Edition from 2008 when metallic sky blue paint and mocha brown interior on top of black interior was supposed to be a good idea.  We are not fashionistas, but we balk at this hideous sight. Maybe the Japanese designers didn’t get the memo that said no to this package.  Seriously, the brown wrapped steering wheel and the silver/black dash just make us cringe. The leather on the seats was high quality stuff and the seats themselves were comfortable and came with heaters for our chilly hinnies on an unseasonably cool summer’s day. 
The radio, 6 disk cd changer, and ipod jack were all easily accessible and easy to understand.  There was no console control, media center, or confusing interfaces to distract us from the main goal; driving.  We even changed some of the preset radio stations to our favorites without wrecking it or even driving in the wrong lane.
One feature we did enjoy was the cup holder built into the door frame.  There are only two seats in this car, but there are four cup holders, which says to us that MX-5 drivers pee a lot.  We also noticed that most MX-5 owners are at an age when peeing might not be the easiest task to accomplish (Prostates can be bothersome).
The window controls are in the middle console, but at least there are two unlike the one switch in the Mercedes SLK 350.  They are auto down switches, but you have to hold them to get them all the way up.

The exterior of the MX-5 has not changed since we were pre-teens, which was a while ago.  We drove a 2008, but the styling of the 2011 is the exact same, the only real difference between the two is a tweaked interior and one more horsepower in the ’11.
The convertible roof is completely manual and took 3.5 seconds to take down and put up, assuming you were already stopped.  We did drive into a couple of rain showers and didn’t receive a drop in the car (Partly because of our speed.  Thank you for proving that, Mythbusters!).  We love the wheel flares over the front tires and the chrome head supports behind the seats. 
                The sound of the MX-5 is like a swarm of angry wasps.  We found ourselves searching for stoplights just to go through the gears again!  It wasn’t the guttural shout of the Mini, and if you kept the rpm’s low you wouldn’t even notice the sound of the exhaust.  We spent most of the test drive with the rpm’s around 4 and 5 thousand, which helped in the noise department.  It’s interesting how the sound of a vehicle can be as big a selling point as the ride and feel.  Then again, the sound can always be altered, *cough* Glasspack. 

Drove it so hard, the gear lever went crooked!
                The Mini has been accused of having go-kart like handling and the MX-5 could be in this category as well.  The analogy we have been leaning towards is a go-kart with airbags.  We loved the rear wheel drive and even turned some doughnuts in a gravel parking lot (The sales person did not go on this drive with us.).  The MX-5 was quick, light, and agile.  We headed for the nearest twisty roads to see what it could do and were not disappointed.  This car kept finding its way to the apex of each corner.  We were really pushing the car, but were driving with a light fingertip touch.  There was not a lot of torque in the lower range, but once you got it to 3-5 thousand rpm’s the MX-5 jumped.  We turned off the DSC (traction control) because it wasn’t activating when we were hurling ourselves off the line, and let’s face it, we’re good enough to handle accelerating the four cylinder 166 horsepower engine without spinning the tires.

The 0-60 time is 7.5 seconds and we believe every bit of it.  The MX-5 felt strong throughout the test.  We found ourselves approaching the speed limits quickly.  We went on a search for some deserted tarmac to really see what the MX-5 could do.  If only “The Loneliest Road in America” was closer…  The mpgs are around 22 city and 28 highway and it showed.  The dealer accidentally left a full tank of gas in it when they turned the car over to us.  We tried to drain the tank, but didn’t really put a dent in it after almost an hour of hard driving.

Even the front end looks serious and concentrated.
All in all, a great value and the best convertible we’ve driven.  The price was right around $20,000 for the ’08, $23,000 for the base ’11, and $30,000 for the limited hard-top convertible ’11.  This is economical common sense; the least amount of money for the most car, that is going to last the longest with the fewest trips to the dealer.  When we started this, the MX-5 was not our top pick.  But now if there was garage space, this is definitely a car we would keep around for those perfect spring/fall days!

1 comment:

  1. I own a 2011 MX-5 PRHT… but lately I've been tempted to change it for a low miles S2000. What do you guys think? Of course, I'm know the MX5 cause I've been driving it for the last year. But my experience inside an S2K is very limited. What can you tell me? Which is better? I'm considering an AP1, but if the AP2 is much better, I can look into one of those rather. Thanks, @Anny