Beneath the Mazda MX-5's
tiny body and great big smile is a whackload of built-in sports car expertise that spans more than two decades.
It mightn't be an intimidating, tire-frying sort of machine, but Mazda's simplistic roadster is a hell of a thing to drive on a racetrack for novices and experts alike.
Considering a fun commuter and vacation getaway machine that'll do double duty as a weekend racer? Here are a few reasons to put Mazda's cute little two-seater on your “To Test Drive” list.
It's Great On Fuel:
|(Photo: Justin Pritchard)
MX-5 gets great mileage en route to the track, while lapping, and while driving back home at the end of the day. Expect highway cruising mileage at a good clip to land around 7.5L/100km, and track-going mileage to land around 18. Translation? Most drivers will be able to tackle a day of racing on a single tank of gas. As track-going cars go, this one’s cheap to run.
It's Easy On Parts:
Excessive weight generates excessive heat in the vehicle's braking system and excessive stress on the tires. Since the MX-5 is little and lightweight, drivers benefit from consistent braking performance with minimal wear, as well as extended tire life during sporty driving.
On many cars, a few hours of lapping can leave the tires looking rougher than Courtney Love on New Year’s morning. With the MX-5, the rubber shows negligible signs of use, even after countless hard laps.
The ESC Isn't Annoying:
In some cars, the stability control is a pain in the ass. That’s especially true when it’s left engaged on a track by novice drivers hoping to safely explore a vehicle’s limits.
In the MX-5, the stability control is tuned perfectly -- ignoring all but the most serious slides and letting drivers feel everything the car is up to. Should the ESC kick in, it does so very briefly and only if you get really out of shape.
Intervention typically takes the form of a split-second touch of selected brakes, rather than several seconds of frustrating throttle neutralization by the electronic throttle nanny.
It's a Convertible:
Driving topless is great for a pile of reasons -- even on a track. Lapping the MX-5 with the roof down feeds your peripheral heaps of information that helps place the car within its surroundings while relating it to the horizon. This is key for successful and confident reactions to slides and skids, should they occur.
And, since the MX-5 only comes in a drop-top, nobody can poke fun at your decision to drive the heavier and less-stiff version of a sports car with a fixed roof.
There's Room for Your Stuff:
MX-5's roof stores away into its own special little compartment -- not into its trunk. That means you've got plenty of room for a bag, a pair of helmets, and a small cooler with track-day drinks and snacks.
It Grows With You:
Novice lappers will feel like a race-car driver and love the forgiving, flattering nature of driving the MX-5 hard. As skill levels increase, the MX-5 is right there with you, too. It’s a hoot for track-day beginners and veterans alike.