Small problem with this one: it’s too small. In more ways than one. First, I’m quite tall and, even with the seat as low and far back as it goes, I can feel the roof interfering with my rug. It – the roof! – can come off (simple with the excellent folding hard-top of this Roadster Coupe version, which takes up no more boot space than the soft top), but the loan inevitably coincides with weather armageddon.
The other direction it’s too small in is lengthways; there aren’t enough seats for my family. Hardly the car’s fault – it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a two-seater – but it’s complicating a Sunday trip to visit friends on the other side of town.
Regular readers of this column will remember that the last time we faced this problem, my girlfriend was forced ignominiously on to public transport while my son and I roared off in a beautiful orange Jaguar. In the interest of fairness and chivalry, she should have one of the seats this time, but who gets the other? She says the boy, very nearly two, can’t be trusted to cross London alone. So – the horror begins to dawn – it looks like I’m on the bus (my bicycle, actually: me v hurricane Katrina). Well, the MX-5 is more of a girl’s car… boo, chauvinist, oink.
There’s another problem: she’s not a world-famous motoring journalist, so who’s assessing the car? Well, seeing as I’m saying it’s a girl’s car, I suppose she’d better. I can take it for a sly spin later, top off (the car!) in a rare weather window, to cast an expert eye over things, fill in any gaps. More boos.
Yeah, she likes it, it’s pretty. And they do look lovely in it, until they disappear, laughing, over the horizon. Its lowness means it’s not the easiest car to get a child in and out of, or yourself if you’re eight months pregnant (we’re going to need our own bus soon). But once in, it feels good. Less small than it looked from the outside (she was worried she’d feel vulnerable and invisible to lorries). And loads of fun to drive, “quite nippy” (boo, racist).
Inside, it’s certainly not luxurious, a bit dated, too, but then there is a retro feel about an MX-5, even in its third generation, that’s part of the charm. Maybe it’s not the right car for this particular driver’s juncture in life, but one that would have been very nice before, she says, as a girl about town. Or possibly even later, afterwards.
What about ride and handling, bhp, what about low-end torque? You what? OK, move over love, I’ll take it from here. Excellent r&h; it’s not the most powerful car, it doesn’t need to be; as for torque… you know what, you can go to What Car magazine or whatever for all that.
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0 Sports Tech
Top speed: 136 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 7.9 seconds
Combined fuel consumption: 39.2 mpg
CO2 emissions: 181 g/km
Cool rating: 8/10
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk