Icon Of Icons: Autocar Awards Readers' Champion Mazda MX 5

The Lotus Elan was the obvious inspiration for the MX-5, a car that hadn’t been built at Hethel for 16 years. Its steel backbone chassis would have made passing any sort of side impact test – even if the test involved a rabbit running into the side of the car – impossible. 

I can remember how excited I was about the imminent arrival of the MX-5 and I remember driving it for the first time. I thought seriously about buying one as they only cost £14,250, but interest rates were in double figures back then and we needed somewhere to live. The interior was a bit plasticky, but Mazda sensibly bolted a Momo steering wheel onto the car and wrapped the gearknob in leather. 

Like the Elan, the MX-5 had pop-up headlights. Unlike the Elan’s, they always worked. The Mk2, or NB model (Mazda has used blissfully simple type designations for the car: it started with NA and now we’re on ND), lost the pop-up lights but otherwise didn’t change much. The NC was quite a step onwards but the recipe wasn’t much messed with. 

When Mazda launched the current car, they assembled all four generations at Goodwood, where I drove them in age order. To my surprise, I enjoyed each one more than the last, though I think the speed of the circuit made a big difference. 

Eye-watering interest rates scuppered my purchase of an MX-5 in 1989 and another impediment arrived in 1992 in the shape of a child. A daughter who, 23 years later, bought herself a Mk1. It was a spec that I’d forgotten existed with a 1600cc engine, wind-up windows and manual steering. It was very low-mileage and original. When I drove it, I was stunned at how good it felt. In my experience, this happens with the very best cars: you drive them after a long break and they surprise you all afresh. 

It is hard to imagine Mazda not building the MX-5. I suppose one day there will be talk of it adopting electrification. If it gets no heavier, wider, faster and more expensive, then I will probably still love it. 

>Click here for the Mazda MX-5 to be named our icon of icons

Read more

>Mazda MX-5 review

>Race, retrain, recover: driving in the lifesaving Race of Remembrance​

>30 years of the Mazda MX-5 Miata​

Source : https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/features/icon-icons-autocar-awards-readers-champion-mazda-mx-5

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