We’ll make no bones about the fact that we love the Mazda MX-5. Yet as you can see, were not the only ones to have been showering the brilliant two-seater with plaudits. In the year since its launch the MX-5 has racked up over 30 different awards for Mazda’s trophy cabinet.
For instance, it has fought off tough opposition from the likes of the Audi A4 and Mercedes GLC to take the World Car of the Year title, as well as snatching the World Car Design of the Year gong from Jaguar’s XE. Impressively, this is the only car ever to win both honours in the same year.
So what’s it like living with the multi- award-winning roadster? Well, it’s been mostly a happy and carefree experience. For starters, the roof operation is by far and away the easiest you’ll find. Simply unlatch from the top of the windscreen, push back and you’re away.
Unfortunately, until the past couple of weeks, this summer hasn’t served up the best convertible weather, but as long as it hasn’t been raining the roof has remained down – although this has caused a few raised eyebrows from my fellow commuters when the temperature is low and the sky is full of menacing clouds.
However, sitting low in the cockpit shelters you from most of the buffeting and the tiny wind deflector does a decent job of keeping the cabin calm. Thankfully, there’s a great heating system so you won’t be cold for long. In fact, it gets a little too hot at times, but we’re certainly not complaining about that. And if you’re ever caught out and need to pop the roof backup, that’s also a doddle and can be done one-handed and quicker than any electric roof.
Yet it’s all about driving with the MX-5 – whatever road you’re on, this is still one of the most thrilling cars. Thanks to its compact dimensions, you can nip in and out of heavy traffic when you need to, and while vision is slightly restricted when the roof is up it’s definitely better than in the previous model.
On the motorway it’s a competent cruiser, and although there’s some roar from the tyres, refinement is generally good. But it’s on those twisty roads that it really opens up and puts a big smile on my face. For me the Mazda is as close as you can get to a go-kart for the road, as its pin-sharp steering allows you to guide it through corners with little more than a quick flick of the wrists.
You have to work the gearbox hard to keep the fizzy 1.5-litre engine on the boil, but that’s all part of what makes this such an engaging and enjoyable car. Plus, we love the rasping exhaust note from the four-cylinder unit as it rips around to the red line.
Yet perhaps the biggest surprise is the Mazda’s usability. Unless we need to cany bulky stuff or my three grandchildren, the MX-5 can swallow quite a lot for a little two- seater. The boot is smaller than the previous version’s, but it’s a better shape so you can easily squeeze in a couple of small suitcases, while a week’s big shop is no problem.
There’s also a glovebox between the driver and passenger seats which is great for housing all my bits and bobs; we can even keep the detachable cup-holders in there. We just have to make sure we leave enough room to carry off all the car’s awards and trophies.
Clever SkyActiv tech ensures Mazda blends nippy pace with decent efficiency, and while you have to shift up and down box a lot, slick changes make this fun.
The low-slung driving position is generally comfortable, but taller drivers find the lack of adjustment on the steering wheel frustrating.
Mazda MX-5 1.5 SkyActiv 129bhp Se-L Nav
On fleet since: March 2016
Price new: £20,195
Engine/power: 1.5-litre 4cyl/129bhp
Options: Metallic paint (£550)
Insurance: Group/quote 26/£651
Mileage/mpg: 3,133/41.4 mpg
Costs: None so far
Any problems: None so far
*Insurance quote from AA for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxfordshire, with three penalty points.
Small but perfectly formed is the best way to describe our MX-5. Its striking proportions look great from any angle, plus it’s a real blast to drive on twisting back roads. Yet it’s the Mazda’s surprising usability that has really impressed, allowing it to blend effortlessly into my daily routine.