Monday, 21 March 2011

The Mazda MX-5...

Think of the MX-5 and you might think of this...

...and if that's the case, give yourself a slap in the face. The MX-5 is a fantastic little car with fun by the truck-load and an awesome chassis, so awesome in fact that it is still regarded by many as being one of the best...ever. If your main concerns about MX-5 ownership are Vidal Sassoon and 'girl car' jokes you should read on. N£2G is here to guide you through your misguided ideas and show you the light!

We'll offer you this to get your juices flowing...

Yeah, that's got your attention hasn't it? Vidal Sasswho?

Introduced in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show, the MX-5 (or Eunos or Miata, depending on your part of the world) found itself to be a hit from the off. Other manufacturers had tried to encapsulate the ethos of a cheap, two-seater sports car before - none with so much flair as this, though. The cheeky looking ragtop was hugely popular at concept stage and when it actually hit the roads the motoring press and the new owners united in celebration and simply went bonkers for them - they were just that damn good!

For our potential-filled £2k budget you'll be looking at either a mk1 (complete with uber-cool pop-up headlights) or a non-poppy-up-headlighty mk2. Both came with either a 1.6 or 1.8 litre engine and both were (and still are) brilliant. Obviously if you want a newer car then the mk2 is the way to go - they tend to start at around £1500. Go for the older car, though, and you won't just have poppy-uppy headlights, you'll also have a fair wad of cash left to modify it, and these days MX-5 ownership is all about the modification. You could buy one and roll it in stock guise, but that would be silly because, a bit like Kelly Brook, these suckers look ace once they've been tarted up!

No, wait, that's not right. Sorry, we were Googling something else there...ahem.

Ah yes, that's it. Just as pretty and much more likely to let you touch its curves. See what we did there? We used touching the car as a metaphor for touching girls. Heh, we're clever like that. Anyway, this is a car blog god-dammit, no more lady talk!

Inside the car you can't help but feel like you're piloting some sort of go-kart. Your bottom is only a few inches away from the tarmac rushing by underneath it and as such you feel like you're doing 120mph when you're on doing 27! It's nimble, grippy, involving, rewarding and just generally brilliant fun to drive. The balance is perfect and in the cabin everything is where it should be. The gear-change is quick and crisp and the pedals are perfectly placed for smooth, perfect control. The steering is on the cusp of being both involving but not too heavy and the suspension offers the perfect mix of stability and, when cruising, comfort. The 1.6 engine isn't going to set the world on fire (neither is the 1.8 for that matter) but that's not what this car is about, this car is about enjoying the roads and everything they have to offer, not how fast you can do it. Every journey - unless it's a trip to Ikea to pick up some shelves - is a joy in an MX-5, even more so with the lid off!

The years have been kind to the MX-5, as have all those people who have ignored the stereotypical view of them being girly, hairdresser's cars. Mazda still build it- albeit in new, metal-folding-roof form - which is good, but it's the classics which are coming into their own. The new version is great and may well find itself on this blog in a few years time, but it's nothing when compared to the older cars. They offer so much variation, wild application, passion, skill and general aesthetic awesomeness. There are just so many first and second genration cars out there, living at the skilful and creative mercy of people who live and love to modify them - and all for less than £2k in a lot of cases. It's quite inspiring.

Throw on some coilovers, some decent wheels and a few stickers and a selection of your own personal touches and you'll soon stand out from the crowd. Add paint, seats, engine upgrades and more and you'll be a hero. Get out there and use it like you should -with the lid off - and then you really will be living the two-seater roadster dream. The MX-5 is great, but a modified one is even better - something we know from experience.

To be honest, it doesn't matter either way. Here at N£2G we're lucky enough to know some people who have rather tasty examples, bought and built for well under £2k and they really float our boat. That said, we've driven standard cars too, and they're just as good. Basically, as long as it's an MX-5 you'll be winning!

So man up, ignore the stereotype, take heed of the information here and buy an MX-5 knowing that it's far from solely being a girly hairdresser's car. No, you can't use it for shopping; yes, you'll have to strap your children to the roof on the school run as there are only two seats and no, it won't do 0-60mph in less than an hour. In fact, thinking about it, there is a hell of a lot the MX-5 is rubbish at - things that other cars within the budget do with ease. That's not the point though, you buy an MX-5 because you love driving, plain and simple, not to be practical. Practicality, like shelves and Ikea, is boring.

The MX-5 is a successful and amazing bit of machinery and once you turn the key and enjoy a few miles in one you'll agree. Even if you do have to leave your kids, Ikea shelves and for good measure, your partner at the shops because of space issues.

Oh, and if people do tell you it should be pink, paint it pink - it'll still look a hell of a lot cooler than whatever they're driving!