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Motoring: Top up or down, Mazda MX-5 sport-errific

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 20th, 2006

Some of you may remember that about a year ago, I tested the third generation Mazda MX-5 and I loved it.

It looked great, it had a fantastic interior, loved the eagerness of the engine, but most of all, it handled like a dream.

So it was easy for me to fall in love with this car. However, because it had just a manual folding soft-top, the car could only be seriously taken as a summer cruiser.

However, Mazda has now done the unthinkable and is offering their baby roadster with a folding hard top. Yes, this tiny roadster has a power retractable hard top available as an option.

More amazingly, they have managed to fit the folding hard top into the same space as the soft top used, so your trunk space (which is very generous for a car like this) is left unchanged.

On top of everything, the styling has only improved. The folding hard top looks great up and the car looks great when the roof is resting in its nest. Also, the quality of the roof is fantastic. It seals up remarkably well and keeps the weather where it should be (unless you want the weather with you).

Also, this is the fastest folding roof in the business. It takes just 12 seconds to go down, 15 seconds to go up.

So it seems Mazda has pulled off the impossible. A good looking compact folding hard top.

However, has this new gizmo diluted the purity of the orignial MX-5? Has this car become heavier and slower? Has this car gotten too grown up?

As far as weight is concerned, this new retractable hard top version is only 36 kg heavier than the equivalent soft top version. So the weight doesn't affect the performance much. It has a very minimal effect on the handling too, so this car is still a joy to push through the corners. Straight line performance is hardly affected. Sure the soft top version would be the choice for the purists and for those who compete in events like autocross, but by buying the hard top version, you are not compromising much.

This car still has the same wonderful two hard top is a bit too noisy to be comfortable on a long drive. The engine buzzes at highway speeds which does get on your nerves after awhile, and ...... ummm... ahhhh.... hmmm.... I can't think of anything else. Sure, I hated the colour of my press car (what man would buy a burgundy MX-5, especially since it still has a sort of chick car image) but if I were buying one, I'd pick a nicer colour.

If I were going to buy one, I'd have to come up with $34,500 for the base model, which is well enough equipped. So the price is decent as well. So, if you can afford one of these, you've just run out of excuses to buy one.
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