Jeremy I’ve just been reading Richard Hammond‘s review of the new RCZ in the Mirror. Me and the little chap used to present on Men & Motors PI (Pre Internet) – in those days he rode a motorbike to work and was slightly taller…
He’s obviously a big fan of the Pug coupe and especially the styling. I have to say I agree with him because any manufacturer that dares to break the jellymould of car design deserves a slap on the back.
The latest RCZ benefits from the new corporate nose of Peugeot, first seen on the 208. It’s not that different to the last one but on the RCZ, that means slightly more angular headlights and those annoying daytime running lights too.
One feature I agree with Hammond on is that there is something odd about the driving position. I can get comfortable in the seat but the foot pedals are so high they must have been designed for somebody with two knee joints.
It’s weird. The electric seats will recline and adjust for height but at 5ft 10ins, I began to feel like, well, a Richard Hammond. No idea why this is but I’m hoping Jessica can shed some light on things when she squeezes her 5ft 11ins frame inside next week…
Jeremy I’ve always loved driving the Audi TT and the VW Scirocco looks pretty neat too – apart from a rather odd rear end. So when I saw the Peugeot RCZ for the first time, I was eager to give it a go. Now I have one parked outside and I’m impressed.
There’s no doubt Peugeot’s designer coupe turns heads. It looks fantastic from most angles and I can tell you it is exceptionally well built, with a quality interior and, surprisingly, a huge boot.
I’ve only covered about 20 miles so far but the 156bhp version is livelier than I expected. It feels faster than the 8.3 second 0-60mph time, so I can only imagine the 200bhp petrol is even more fun.
The rear +2 seats are much smaller than the TT, especially leg room, which is non-existent. But up front, it’s a comfortable and refined place to sit, wrapped in an electrically adjustable driver’s seat that’s also heated.
I’m still not sure about the profile of the boot though. The back end seems to extend slightly further than it needs to. I’m turning a blind eye for now but I would have gladly accepted a smaller boot for a more pert bottom!
Jeremy It’s the last day with our MX-5 – so we need an excuse to get another one quick! Problems have been few and far between and I can even imagine living with the Roadster Coupe during the wicked weather of the winter months.
On the negative side, the 2.0-litre engine isn’t the most powerful around, it’s not that economical and the cabin can be a little noisy at high speed. However, you can overlook these niggles when the drive and handling agility are so good.
So while the MX-5 isn’t as cheap to run as some rival convertibles, the trade off is that is it relatively cheap to buy. Build quality is excellent, the interior is an ergonomic joy for the driver and there’s a decent size boot even when the tin top is folded down.
There’s a new model coming out in 2014 but let’s hope Mazda doesn’t change the MX-5 too much – I suspect they won’t. How can they make a great car even better? Well, a rear screen wiper on the Coupe would be useful, as would rear parking sensors and telescopic adjustment on the steering column.
Otherwise don’t mess with a great little sports car Mazda!
Jessica This is a car with a quiet reputation and clearly there are those in the know. We all know they are out there but take little notice. Actually stopping and looking at it (even in white) the lines are effective, the shape although small is in good proportion from front to back and I like the hard top version for those times when living through an English summer there is no hope of driving California style in sunglasses and bikini.
Once I got into the car and got over just how little it is particularly for my long limbed frame, I began to enjoy myself.
The dash and console have minimum equipment without missing the basics, the screen sensibly reverts to simply telling the time when not in use, which I much prefer. Many cars have so much going on that one glance down and you may as well be talking on a phone it is so distracting.
Not so here, there are no distractions from the business of driving, with a gear stick in a classic sports position and easy to reach, handling that is sharp and authentic, gears that allow you to really drive, road holding is impressive this car is fun and attractive.
Clearly big dogs, large amounts of luggage or children are out of the equation here, which makes it even better as it is purely a car for the self, an individualistic driving experience without breaking the bank.
Jeremy The first memorable car I ever owned was an Alfa Romeo GT Junior from 1972. Great machine but like every Alfa of the era, it eventually rusted to my driveway and had to be towed away. I replaced it with an MBG Roadster and that’s when my love of motoring started…
The MX-5 is often compared with the MG – because it is also a sensational, value-for-money, sports car. There are plenty faster, possibly prettier and offering more stylish interiors yet, with cars like the MG and Mazda, it’s all about getting behind the wheel.
If you enjoy ‘enthusiastic’ driving, sportsters the MX-5 usually cost a whole lot more. You could include two-seaters like the BMW Z4, Audi TT and Porsche Boxster in this category. Great cars but considerably more cash.
I’d say the MX-5 is equally as much fun as all of them and the benefits of the folding hard-top roof make it a serious competitor for those three German machines. If £23,000 is out of your range for a new, 2.0-litre MX-5, a two year old model with less than 15,000 miles on the clock will set you back around £12,000.
You could buy a classic MGB with the money you save too…
Jeremy Just back from a perfect Sunday afternoon drive to Skenfrith on the Welsh border, en route to Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival.
The MX-5 is perfect for the sweeping bends of the Herefordshire countryside – beautifully balanced and so forgiving on the corners.
On the return trip, I decided to make a mental note of the all the features our Tech version doesn’t have – considering it’s the top of the range model. Here it is:
Daytime driving lights – Bluetooth – telescopic steering wheel adjustment – self-cancelling indicators – DAB radio – stop-start engine – keyless entry.
And here’s one feature it does have that no other convertible offers for £23k – Enjoyment. The MX-5 may be less powerful, less frugal and less butch than many others but I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.
Jeremy I thought having the hard-top option of the MX-5 Roadster Coupe wouldn’t present any disadvantages – especially as the folded steel of the Mazda doesn’t eat into the boot space of the car, unlike so many other convertibles.
However, after a fantastic day of driving the two-seater in the sunshine, what I have found is that the MX-5 looks so much better with the fabric roof fitted than the metal one. Not only that, it’s a much prettier and dynamic car with either roof down and stowed away.
I’m looking at the Roadster Coupe parked outside now with the top down, as the sun starts to disappear over the Cotswolds. It’s far and away the best-looking two-seater you can buy for £23,000 – and that’s the top spec model we’re testing. Investigate further down the range and you can snap up a bargain model that looks equally as good.
The revised front end is especially neat, with latest Mazda ‘nose’ and a lower air spoiler in black. Low, purposeful and shapely – just as any sports car should be. I’m enjoying every moment in this great little sportster.
Jeremy If you are reading this in London and planning a Bank Holiday escape to the South West this afternoon, you may consider delaying your journey. The A303 ‘run to the sun’ is super busy and it’s cold too!
In fact, cold enough to deter me from dropping the hard-top on the MX-5 for too long just yet. Even with the seat-warmer on full tilt, the cabin of the Mazda is less than snug. The tiny wind-deflector between the headrests helps reduce the draft but a hat should be on the options list.
Getting back behind the wheel of an MX-5 is like meeting up with an old friend. The qualities that made this great little sports car a hit back in the 90s are still present – forgiving handling, lively but not breath-taking performance and great looks.
Although the Mazda boasts modest performance (0-60mph in 7.9 seconds), because you are sat so low in the car, it feels much faster. It can’t compete with a Porsche Boxster or a BMW Z4 in a straight line but the 2.0-litre engine works brilliantly in such a well-balanced car.
It may not be the most butch convertible on the market but if you want value for money thrills and great looks, only a fool would rule out the MX-5.
Jeremy Why is it some people still think the MX-5 is a hairdresser’s car? I just told a male friend on the telephone that I was taking delivery of the Mazda today and his first response was ‘hairdresser’s car’. Just because he drives a butch 5 Series BMW – he’s probably never been in an MX-5 in his life.
The MX-5 is probably useless for hairstylists anyway. Drop the folding hard-top and all that coiffure is going to be blown away in an instant. I would imagine that hairdressers would much prefer a Fiat 500 cabriolet, or a Audi TT Roadster…
For me, the MX-5 is something of a legend. I owned one back in the 1990s and it just had that rare ability to always put a smile on my face. It loved being driven hard, especially around corners and along twisty backroads. It just set the benchmark for other convertibles to follow. Although nobody ever made anything quite so good for the same sort of money.
Our Roadster Coupe offers the best of both worlds. You can still buy an MX-5 with a soft top but the hard-top makes for quieter high-speed motoring and safer overnight parking.
Just what Mazda will do to improve the car when it is updated in 2014 remains to be seen. Let’s hope they don’t ruin a winning formula because this current version is still as good as it gets. More words tomorrow when I have had a proper drive…
Jessica The Swift a little car which feels strangely cavernous inside, particularly as it is covered in acres of grey plastic dashboard trim. The dials, speedo and rev counter are stylish however, it is lost amongst the vast spread of plastic in front of you as you drive.
This is the Sport version but the drive is fraught with comedy revving to get it up to speed. This doesn’t sit well with the idea of a top of the range sporty hatchback. The exterior might lead you to believe you were about to enter into a fun and zippy car. Sadly not, it is a car that is value for money but I can’t help thinking there is something missing.
Beware of being a passenger ( I would not advise parents to sit with learners!) as it feels a little out of control. A trip into Cirencester for a Hobbs House sandwich and on to see The Great Gatsby left me a little jumpy. In fact, being a passenger made me feel similar to how a Gatsby passenger might have felt!
The Swift is safe enough to get a teenager on the road at not to0 great a cost and it does have a few fans out there. However, there are too many contradictions for me about the Suzuki.