Mazda Mx-5 front

Mazda MX-5 – Review

The Mazda MX-5, the Mazda Miata or the Mazda Eunos Roadster – An iconic Japanese roadster that has made its mark globally is now in its fourth generation. I had spent a little bit of time with the car last Summer with CBG in Ireland on a photoshoot . When I drove it, it was exactly what I had expected – a lightweight, open top, effortless car that is cheap. So now that I am both in Chicago and it has been a year since I last drove it, do I feel the same way? Or a better question, should it be overlooked now that the Mazda MX-5 RF is available?

Mazda Mx-5 front

Japanese Architecture Meets Japanese Engineering

For anyone who is interested in architecture will be familiar with the name Frank Lloyd Wright and his most well-known work, Falling Water. Wright began his career in the suburbs of Chicago so it was a no brainer that I had to visit Oak Park. Wright is known for his eccentric yet modern, simplistic houses constructed between 1889 and 1959. He spent some time living in Japan where he brought back some design ideas from the temples which can be seen on some of his work in Oak Park.

Mazda Mx-5 front

Similarities between the MX-5’s KODO design and Wright’s clear and crisp straight lined architecture lines can be seen. The MX-5’s squinty headlights don’t pay homage to the MK1 (NA) MX-5 that we all know and love with its innocent pop-up headlights. Nor do the rear angular lights represent the NA’s ones in all their oval-ness. No, the ND MX-5 is one that is completely new, unseen in today’s automotive world. Nowadays, we settle for the newer model of cars. The BMW 3-Series, for example. The new one is just a slightly different rendition of the previous generation one. This tactic makes previous-gen owners feel like they haven’t been cheated but new-gen buyers feel like they are getting a totally new car. Something in which Frank Lloyd Wright wouldn’t have approved.

Mazda Mx-5 rear

Even from the cabin, looking out over the bonnet the car gives a sense of purpose and presence. What, with the bonnet bulges each side giving it a sense of length. It reminds me of the Triumph TR6. Inside, you begin to see the budgeting side of the MX-5. There are cheap plastics making up the dash, A-pillar, centre console and the cubby hole between the driver and passenger. The leather seats are held together with contrasting red stitching, a familiar sight in Mazda cars. The infotainment system does the job. Mazda still hasn’t found out about Apple CarPlay or Android Auto just yet in the MX-5 but phone connectivity is easily done.

Mazda Mx-5 interior

Out On The Mother Road

But the Mazda MX-5 is best known from the moment the key is turned, or rather from the moment the Start/Stop button is pushed in the ND’s case. The four-cylinder 2.0 155hp engine bursts into life. How do you know? The gear stick vibrates with purpose and the twin-exhausts shout from a stand-still. The sound from the exhaust, is an interesting one. There is no burble or particular song from them. More just, a sound. A sound to let you know that there is an engine there ready to be worked to every inch of the tachometre.

Mazda Mx-5 side

Illinois isn’t known for its great driving roads or iconic S bends. But none the less, I was determined to have fun. So much so, that I met up with the Windy City Miata Club (WCMC)  – A car club dedicated to the appreciation for the small British-esque roadster. But what Illinois, more so Chicago, is known for is The Mother Road. Yep, I was going to take on a whopping 50miles of the 2,451miles of Route 66 with my fellow MX-5ers. This is when I truly fell for the Mazda MX-5. My father and I are Triumph TR6 owners so I understand the sense of obsession around a particular brand or model of car. Each Mazda MX-5 owner from the WCMC had a passion for the roadster and an urgency to keep them on the road. From the 1989 NA all the way up to mine, a 2017 ND, they were each appreciated with no disregard. With an automatic gearbox or manual. Stock or modified.

Mazda Mx-5 front

It’s in the news every day that electric cars are going to take over and that the petrol engine will be dead and gone. But I have no doubt Mazda will be able to pull off the MX-5 for another 28 years. Its iconic design, the way it drives and the fact that it costs from €27,995 makes it so desirable. Frank Lloyd Wright would have been proud to see his iconic home being complimented by something even more iconic, the Mazda MX-5.