Our Fleet Test Drive: Mazda MX-5 - Final Report
31 March 2008
Author: Tristan Young Tom Webster
Cars that spend a long time in the BusinessCar office often divide opinion, but the MX-5 has found favour across the board over the past 12 months.
Granted, it has its flaws: cabin space is limited ; our taller drivers need the seat as far back as it will go; infuriatingly, the iPod connection doesn't shuffle or select playlists; the sun visors block too much of the windscreen; and road noise can be intrusive with the roof up. Running costs started off high, too, with an early average fuel consumption of 22.0mpg, though that improved when our office moved out of the centre of London to Kent; by the time the car left it was averaging in the low 30s.
Fortunately, none of these quibbles managed to detract from the overall experience of running the little roadster.
The speed and ease of the folding hardtop - the claimed 12-second lowering time was realistic - meant that many of the 13,000 miles the car covered were with the wind in our hair . With heated seats and the wind deflector, we were snug and sun-bathed, even on the crispest of winter mornings. In fact, wind intrusion was so minimal that deputy editor Paul Barker was able to make the 350-mile trip down to Le Mans with the top off.
And with the top up the MX-5 confirms what I've always felt - that the hard hood is sleeker and sportier, and therefore preferable to the canvas roof. It makes sense from an aesthetic, safety and security point of view, despite the £2050 premium over the soft-top.
While the trip to Le Mans proved the Mazda could cope admirably with motorway driving, it was cross-country where the car was a real joy. Precise steering and rapid throttle response in every gear meant twisty B-roads were tackled with a grin. The car was at home even in urban areas. But one drawback in town was rear visibility, a problem a less confident parallel parker solved by whipping the roof down to squeeze into a tight spot.
Our 2.0-litre car came with all the toys available as standard. One of these was the Bose stereo upgrade with iPod connection, but as fantastic as the sound quality was, an aux input plug would have been better due to the socket's fiddly operation.
So it's a sad farewell to the MX-5, a car that makes sense from a low-budget thrill-seeker's point of view, as well as a perk car on a fleet list.