YOU don’t get into a Mazda MX-5. You put it on.
Open the small door and drop way down into the snug seat, cocooned in the cockpit.
Like stretchy Lycra sportswear, there’s enough room but none to spare.
Sure enough, driving an MX-5 is one of the most intimate experiences on the road. It’s a car that has been around for more than 30 years now, in four generations, but the basic spirit hasn’t changed.
In fact it seems more distinctive than ever, because while other cars have got bigger and fatter, the Mazda remains a skinny athlete.
This model is called the MX-5 100th Anniversary Special Edition. Big name for a little car.
It’s nothing more than cosmetics, though — you can get the same mechanical spec when this limited- edition runs out.
It gets burgundy-coloured seats and carpet, a “dark cherry” cloth roof over a pearly-white body and dark-grey wheels. I know what you’re thinking, but see it in the flesh and it’s quite sophisticated.
The MX-5 is all about the classic sports-car layout. Its 2-litre engine doesn’t want or need a turbocharger. Instead, you need to get stuck into the throttle and rev like crazy to find the full 185hp.
Do that and it’s got strong, instant reflexes and the overtaking punch of a decent hot hatch. And yet, because the MX-5 is so light, you can easily get 40mpg.
Behind that is a manual gearbox with a gorgeous shift that’s literally a flick of the wrist. It’s rear-wheel drive, for strong traction away from lights, roundabouts and tight corners. The steering reacts so fast it could be wired to your brain. At first it seems nervous, but you recalibrate your hands.
Even so, don’t think it’s just a bare-bones machine. It’s got lots of safety-conscious driver aids and warning systems, satnav, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and heated seats.
Those snug chairs have little Bose speakers in the headrests for brilliant music even when the roof is down.
Ah yes, the roof. Like everything else on this car, the fold mechanism is light and simple, and you can raise and lower it in about five seconds with one hand, from the driver’s seat. Like pulling up your hoodie.
If you thought driving an MX-5 made you feel alive, wait until the roof is down. In a city, you’re suddenly a part of streetlife. In the countryside, you’re awash with the senses of nature.
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At night, the stars are your canopy. It’s all so vivid. The clever aerodynamic design around the cockpit, and the toasty heater, mean you can drop the roof even on a crisp winter’s day.
It’s not the perfect all-rounder, of course. The tiny size needs getting used to, because you sit down low, eye-to-eye with the wheel nuts of a truck.
On motorways it’s pretty noisy. And the boot would take hardly more than your gym bag.
KEY FACTS: MAZDA MX-5 100TH ANNIVERSARY
- Price: £29,995
- Engine: 2-litre petrol
- Power: 185hp, 205Nm
- 0-62mph: 6.5 secs
- Top speed: 135mph
- Economy: 40mpg
- CO2: 156g/km
- Out: Now
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