If you go on any Interwebby car forum thing and ask its members what sports car you should buy there’s always at least one chap that’ll suggest you put your money in a Mazda MX-5. It’s a bit like an annoying child constantly telling you to buy chocolate or lollypops when you venture out to the supermarket. Yes, the MX-5 is a damn fine motor vehicle, but it’s not perfect. Here are some of the things that are wrong with it… And by ‘it’ we mean the MK1 and MK2.
1. The Motor.
MX-5s are by no means ‘motor’ sort of cars, what you’re essentially getting is a beans and mash motor in an exquisite chassis. This means that its four banger doesn’t make a particularly inspiring noise. You can of course fit an aftermarket exhaust system, but I’m yet to hear one that doesn’t make the MX-5 sound like a moving fart. The other problem is the lack of power, obviously. Across a squiggly stretch of road you can maintain pretty decent speeds, but if you want to hang the back end out and do some oversteer it’s not ideal. Here’s why; first you give it quite a hefty flick into the corner to unsettle the chassis, then give it a boot full of throttle. You’ll get a delicious rotation, for about a second, before the rear tyres hook up and send you on your way again. It’s almost impossible to hold a slide on dry tarmac – in the wet it transforms into a monumental hooligan and just oversteers everywhere.
2. Motorway Expansion Joints
… OK. Strictly speaking motorway expansion joints are not part of the actual MX-5 car, and no matter what vehicle you should drive over an expansion joint you’re probably not going to like them very much. But, if you hit an expansion joint at 75mph on a motorway in a Mazda MX-5 your entire spine is going to be turned into a dust so fine that you could, weirdly, use it to powder your sweet pastries.
3. Wind And Tyre Noise
The MX-5 is very light, and after driving one you can quite easily see/hear how Mazda kept the curb weight down… Apart from the fact that it’s about the size of a shoe, there isn’t much sound deadening, so over most surfaces it is uncomfortably loud and many motorway miles will make you deaf. Eventually.
4. It’s Not The Stiffest Structure…
The MX-5’s chassis shimmies and shudders over bumps only just resisting the urge to twist itself into a braid. With the windscreen wobbling and the steering column shaking as you drive over a craggy road it can feel just a little bit, um, rubbish.
5. The Transmission Tunnel Acts As A Heater
During the cold, dreary months of winter you’d be genuinely surprised by how warm the innards of an MX-5 can be. The actual heating system is a fine thing, but it’s helped greatly by the transmission tunnel which generates ridiculous amounts of heat, especially during stop start traffic. This is a fine and welcomed attribute when it’s cold, but in the warmer months it can become a bit, er, burny…
By Aiden Taylor (@AidenT_RD)