Fun and engaging, the Mazda MX-5 is a record-breaking sports car that’s still looking good after 25 years, says Kate Ginn
They say: “This is the Mazda way.” We say: “The only way is up.”
It’s official. The Mazda MX-5, also known as the Miata, was this week revealed as the world’s best selling two-seater sports car according to Guinness World Records, with a total production surpassing 900,000 vehicles as of February 2011. The magic 1 million mark is expected to be reached next year. That’s an awful lot of cars.
Who would have imagined that when the first Mazda MX-5 hit the roads back in 1989 it would go on to become the roaring success that it is today? Even Mazda has admitted that it didn’t expect the model to be so popular. Since the model was unveiled to the public at the Chicago Auto Show all those years ago, the convertible has, incredibly, not actually changed that much, save for a few minor body styling tweaks and interior tucks. So it’s safe to say that whatever Mazda is doing, they are doing it very well indeed. Ok, so the MX-5 is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some, unfairly, used to see it as the poor man (or woman’s) sports car. Others questioned its lightweight appeal, although its latest incarnation as a much beefier beast has pretty much put this one to bed.
In Oman, the MX-5 is somewhat of a rarity to say the least. Currently, there are only two limited-edition models, crafted for the 25th anniversary this year, available in the whole of the Sultanate.
Those who do take the plunge will be getting their hands on a bit of a legend, thanks to the Guinness World Records accreditation.
During its illustrious history, the MX-5 has seen four different generations, the last one (brought out two months ago) focusing on reducing the total weight to less than 1,000 kilos. This super slimline body combined with a chunky look makes for a faster and more nimble car with a heavyweight performance akin to a high-end go-kart. The driving force behind the origin car’s design, according to a MX-5 engineer, was the idea of Jinba Ittai, a Japanese phrase used to describe a horse and rider moving as one.It’s a nice image to keep in mind when you slip behind the wheel of the car.
As for the ride, it’s smooth thanks to the multi-link rear suspension and undemanding handling. Of course, the most exciting aspect is the convertible top. Zipping along with the roof down, the sun in your face and wind ruffling your hair makes every drive an exhilarating experience. The MX-5 also happens to have the fastest folding hard convertible in its segment, with a record 12 seconds to roof up. As the roof doesn’t take up much space, the boot still has a respectable 150-litre capacity. It’s pretty quick in the acceleration department, too, hitting just shy of 100kph in under seven seconds, aided by a fast-shifting gearbox that pushes the 2.0-litre engine. There’s also a neat Activematic option, which allows downshifts to be made via switches mounted on the steering wheel.
Interior-wise, the MX-5’s new cabin is roomier and better quality – the stereo system is top notch – although it still lags a little behind more expensive rivals. That said, the level offered here is more than adequate for most people. If you want more of a luxury finish, you’ll simply have to pay for it. The very first MX-5 was only available in blue, white, silver and red. Now you can choose from eight colours, including a very fetching burnished orange. It’s enough to put a perpetual smile on any driver’s face.
If you fancy snapping up one of the only two MX-5’s currently in Oman, you’ll get all of the above with a little extra; special touches such as headrests embossed with the 25th anniversary logo and smart red contrast stitching on the leather seats. The 17-inch aluminium wheels with gunmetal finish are quite lush too. All in all, the MX-5 has come a long way since 1989, while remaining true to its original design and purpose. Here’s to the next 25 years…