I Wanna Be Collected

Whilst the weather last week was lovely and Spring-like, we couldn’t go and collect it on a nice, dry and bright Saturday as I was moving house. No, we went to pick up the MX-5 on the Sunday, my birthday, as it happens.

But it was a little soggy when we woke up and grabbed a bus, the London Overground and a train to get to Eden Park and walk down to the dealers, Masters.

As we walked into the showroom, there it was – it’s a ‘she’ apparently… – sitting there in the showroom looking lovely.

Ali in the MX-5 at Masters Ali 4 MX-5

We did the paperwork, handed over some more cash and off I drove into the traffic: Ali isn’t used to London driving yet, so I got to drive the new MX-5 home. Sadly, it wasn’t dry enough to put the hood down: instead, we got to try out the exceptional 5-point heated leather seats which were very efficient indeed!

I plugged the house address into the built-in satnav and off we drove. A lovely car it is to drive too! Once home, we put the hood down and set to work pairing our iPhones with it: the MX-5 has a feature where it stores multiple user profiles so my phonebook and phone are set for one user and Ali’s for another.

But rain stopped play with our intended photoshoot which will have to wait until we’re back from our holiday.

So Then, This New Mazda…

When Ali Brooks moves in with me, she’ll need a car to go back and forth to Somerset to see family. She was going to bring hers up to London, but her ex needs transport too, he’s going to keep the car and so Ali will need to get herself sorted.

My RX-8 R3 is hideously expensive to run, so it makes sense on longer trips for me to use less fuel for the same speed/distance as well.

Having already spent a day thrashing an MX-5 around Brands Hatch a couple of years ago, I already had a soft spot for the model.

So that’s what we used as an excuse this weekend when we rode out to Masters Mazda at Beckenham to test drive an MX-5.  It turned out that they had the precise model we were after – a Deep Crystal Blue 2.0 litre MX-5 Sport Venture  in the Roadster model (a retractable hard-top) – ready for us. Ali wasn’t keen on driving an unfamiliar car in front of someone else, so the sales guy drove her for a spin which she loved. I declined the offer of a test drive (knowing what it was like anyway) and as Ali loved the car, we went inside and did a deal for one. After I’d paid the deposit to secure a new one, we were allowed to take the car out ourselves: me first and then Ali brought it back in.

We both loved the immediate response from the 2.0 litre engine as well as how quiet the car is with the roof and windows down, so we were chuffed with our choice.

It’s coming in April and will have a personal ‘plate on it: AL1 4 MXS :)

Demo Sport Venture

Experience Mazda – Adrenaline Rush at Brands Hatch

I was invited by Mazda UK to Brands Hatch today as part of their “Experience Mazda” “Adrenaline Rush” summer series. This was a chance – in my case, in the afternoon – to try out an MX-5 and a Mazda3 MPS on the track. And who was I to say no?!

When I turned up, I realised that the MX-5s they had for us were the new, limited edition Sport Black models: 160ps 2.0 litre engines, retractable hard tops and lots of piano black details. They’d brought along all three colours: Velocity Red Mica (hmm, that doesn’t work with the black features); Crystal White Pearlescent (which does work!) and Spirited Green Metallic which looks so-so in photos but which is great in sunlight. Here are some crappy iPhone shots of the cars:

 

Mazda MX-5 Sport Black Limited Edition

Velocity Red Mica

Crystal White Pearlescent

Spirited Green Metallic

For my first drive, I was paired up with an instructor called Paul who sat beside me in the fab green MX-5 and gave me instructions as to the correct positioning, when to feed in power and when to feather the throttle and when to lift off altogether. After this session we came back in and Paul suggested he’d be happy to be my “wingman” for a later session. Excellent! Sadly, I was asked to wear something with sleeves or have to have the roof up, so despite it being warm and sunny I had to don my Superdry windcheater which was in the back of the RX-8 – I was a tad warm after each session.

I took that as my cue and for my next MX-5 session we teamed up again and with his help put in some faster laps, keeping up even with a Radical! You could tell I was getting quicker as I was needing to grab 4th gear earlier and earlier out of Clark Curve onto the Brabham Straight.

My third session should have been in the more powerful Mazda3 MPS, but:

  1. I don’t like how it looks so I wouldn’t buy one anyway;
  2. Despite loving powerful cars, I was having such a hoot in the beautifully balanced MX-5 that I didn’t want to change; and
  3. I didn’t want to learn a new car, especially a front wheel drive one after the rear wheel drive MX-5 (and my own RX-8 R3).

So I asked the Mazda guys and they said I could carry on with the green meanie (and Paul too!).

For the final rush of the day, I was taken out by another instructor, this time in the passenger seat whilst he showed why he’s a racing driver and I’m not! Much, much faster and pushing the MX-5 to (and almost beyond) the limits of adhesion of the poor tortured tyres.

Talking of which, at the end of a day of being driven ragged around a tight circuit, I was amazed that the MX-5′s tyres looked hardly worn and the brakes still had excellent stopping power despite being very hot. Brake dust sprinkled all down the sides showed how hard the cars had been driven and they’d not complained once.

The Mazda MX-5 Black Sport Limited Edition: understated excellence!