Mazda MX-5 – A Dolly Parton of a Car


Sorry if we have been conspicuously absent over the last few days – what with Dolly Parton at Glastonbury, Costa Rica at the World Cup and Murray at Wimbledon it’s been something of a magical summer weekend. I’ve been skipping around the Cotswolds in the MX-5 reminding myself why it’s great to live in this country.

I spent nine years living in Ireland and France – quite long enough to make you truly appreciate the good bits. I can even overlook the bad bits these days, like fat cyclists in Lycra, Tesco strawberries – they turn grey before you even get home – and the ITV Brazil commentary team.

Even my dog seems happy to sit it out in the passenger seat of the MX-5. He sits with his head above the windscreen when the top is down, ears blowing in the wind and dead flies stuck in his teeth. Quite glorious.

Next up on these pages is a couple of days in a Volvo XC60 before I head off to Spain for a tour of Andalucia on a Harley-Davidson. I was  considering not scribbling for a week but provided there is some wifi, the plan is to upload from various locations en route. Shame Spain is out of the World Cup – would have loved to have been in a Tapas bar for a match. I may have to make do with Nadal Vs Murray instead…

Mazda MX-5 – Bottom Trouble


vbv.jpgA friend of mine is currently cycling to five capitals in five countries in five days. Easy? Well, it would be on mainland Europe but he and his team are going a slightly harder route – Cardiff, London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. Oh, and then home again!

I mention this because the thought of 180 miles a day in the MX-5 for a week would be enough to give me a sore arse. Five days in the saddle is quite beyond comprehension.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Mazda has good seats but they’re not exactly suited to long distance travelling. And if you have long legs, the driving position isn’t that clever, even with adjustable steering column (up/down but no reach).

You can follow the boys at:

I think the team would prefer the seat of the Mazda right now whatever…

Mazda MX-5 – Bites Like A Suarez


There’s more than a hint of irony in the fact that the referee from the Uruguay – Italy match has the nickname Dracula. It’s more for the cut of his slicked-back hair than his ability to sink his nashers into unruly players.

I once interviewed a girl who thought she was a vampire, sleeping in a coffin and trying to buy blood from her supermarket – until they found out she was drinking it! Maybe Tesco should sponsor Suarez and cut out the need for him to nibble anyone?

I listened to the Uruguay match in the MX-5 last night. Top down, hurtling around corners and enjoying the Mazda’s sublime handling to the full. There’s something about the low-slung driving position and brilliant chassis that encourages you to push on at every opportunity.

If only the 1.8 engine had a little more power to match the, erm, bite of the handling, this would be the perfect, all-round sports car…

Mazda MX-5 1.8 – Simple Pleasures


The MX-5 has been around for about 27 years and it’s still one of the best two-seater sports cars on the market. Not the fastest, not the best equipped but as a package, it ticks plenty of boxes.

Why does it work? Because Mazda keep it simple. Like a modern day MGB, the MX-5 stays faithful to the front engine, rear-wheel drive approach that has suited several generations of sports cars.

What the MX-5 needs now is an updated engine. Both the 1.8 we have on test this week, and the 2.0 tested last year, are barely adequate power units, both in terms of performance and fuel economy.

The engines serve up just enough bhp to make both models entertaining but I can’t help thinking that Mazda must have something better in development that will give the MX-5 an injection of youthfulness that it is starting to need…


Mazda MX-5 – Raising The Roof


The interior in the picture above is what you really want your MX-5 to look like. It’s the top spec model with sat nav and all the trimmings. Car Couture’s 1.8 SE, on the other hand, is basically basic.

Of course, £18,495 isn’t going to buy you an awful lot of two-seater roadster these days but you can at least look forward to fantastic handling and drivability in the entry-level version.

Perhaps we have come to expect too many features in our cars these days. The SE has been stripped back to the bare minimum and that takes some getting used to!

Perhaps most disappointing of all is the operation of the manual folding roof. Lowering the canvass is easy enough but raising the roof is hard work. It demands a certain amount of precision to to get the securing hook in the right slot. Perhaps most frustrating of all is that you can’t really do it without getting out of the car…

Mazda MX-5 – Budget Convertible


A chap in a white MX-5 might raise eyebrows for all the wrong reasons. Comments about hairdressers aside, I always look forward to driving the best Mazda in the range.

Motoring journalists are usually spoilt with top of the range models but the SE is very much at the bottom – at least this test car has air con, phew.

So it was a bit of shock to open the doo and find the SE – which I assume means ‘special edition’ – has very little apart from two seats and a steering wheel.

OK, that’s a bit unfair but this is a car that has been stripped down to the bare minimum to keep the cost low. No leather, plasticy trim and very little to excite the senses.

I’ve just driven the car to a press night at Weston Park in Shropshire – more tomorrow after I have eaten cake…

Porsche Boxster S – The Biz Stone



I met Biz Stone today – the co-founder of Twitter. He was in London to give a talk and after interviewing him on the telephone last month, I couldn’t resist saying ‘hi’.

Biz is worth quite a lot of money but he’s a pretty down to earth guy. He drives to work across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in a VW Golf when, in fact, his shares in Twitter could buy the bridge. And every car on it several times over.

Flash cars aren’t his thing. I can understand that but after a lifetime testing cars, I think that if I was Biz, a Boxster S would be a ‘modest’ drive for billionaire me.

it would be the benchmark sports car. Not too ‘in-her-face’ and, in London, they’re two-a-penny anyway. Forget comments about this being a hairdresser’s car – the Porsche is an exceptional driver’s car and not to be sniffed at.

Last week I asked the question, is the Boxster S worth the price of four Mazda MX-5s…. The answer, quite simply, is yes.

Porsche Boxster S = 3 X Mx-5?


Car Couture has the iconic Mazda MX-5 on test from Friday and it’s going to be a great contrast to the Boxster S. I’m not just talking about the price. Our Porsche test car is three times the cost of the MX-5 1.8 but I’ll be interested to see if it is three times the fun.

There’s no doubt this latest Boxster is a fantastic car and if you want status, well, the Porsche wins hands down. But I also feel the Boxster has lost some of the rawness it used to have, rather diluting the fun factor in favour of being more grown up.

The acoustic exhaust system does make the Boxster feel like a tearaway but it’s all carefully controlled and, of course, you can switch it off when you don’t want to upset the neighbours late at night.

The Boxster is really two cars in one. You can use it as an everyday car most of the time, then press the sport button, activate the exhausts and let rip the next. The catch? You are paying top dollar for the pleasure.


Porsche Boxster S – The Hand of God


It could be the meddling hand of God but the only hint of doubt I can find in the workings of the Porsche Boxster is hidden in the brain of the satellite navigation.

Yesterday I travelled to the Leon Paul Fencing Centre in north London, to interview the new European foil champion, James Davis. Oxford, M40, north circular would seem like the obvious route and it was, until satellite navigation got involved for the last mile.

While Davis was waiting for me at the centre, the Boxster incorrectly directed me off the north circular and up the M1 towards the north! It was a ten mile drive to the first exit, then ten miles back to where I started.

Infuriating? Yes, especially as system them took me off on another random route that was another waste of fuel. Of course, we’ve all had random moments like this with sat nav. But I’ve come to expect better from Porsche and besides, this is a £55,000 car!


Porsche Boxster S – Anger Management


What’s the one thing you can’t do in a Porsche Boxster? Get another driver to give way at a busy junction…. What is it about driving a Porsche that seems to upset people so much?

Maybe it just reminds us of the loadsofmoney days of the 1980s, when owning a Porker and a brick sized mobile phone were standard-issue kit for every yuppy.

Well, it seems the great British public has a long memory – either that or they are very upset about England losing to Italy on Saturday night. I’ve had three incidents of angry driving aimed at me over the weekend, even though I’ve barely taken the Boxster above 5000rpm.

There’s no doubt that this is the most mature Boxster Porsche has made. It’s refined, comfortable and more than capable of being your everyday car. Getting used to the aggressive antics of other driver is the only downside…