Hell, I really don’t know whether to suggest you opt for the MX-5, or the new Fiat Spider.
A fantastic dilemma to have but both cars offer so much and, considering they sit on the same platform, it hard to believe they are so closely related.
That said, I’m not very close to my brother, so perhaps we should just put the obvious to one side and try and work it out as if both were new cars.
In a nutshell, the MX-5 is more modern looking, needs to be worked hard through the gears but is immensely rewarding.
The Spider is subtle retro, equally well-equipped, better on a long trip than a country lane, and is also a gem to drive.
Whichever one you think you want, do try BOTH cars before putting down a deposit. The Fiat is late to the party but there isn;t much to choose between them…
From Thursday I will be testing the Mercedes SLC – yep, the ‘new’ SLK…
For those of you lucky enough to be stuck in a dilemma over whether to buy an MX-5 or the new Fiat 124 Spider (pictured) I have to say there is no easy fix.
However, I can tell you that the outcome of your deliberations may well depend on how old you are.
Why? Well, I would suggest the Fiat is the better looking car. I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the Mazda especially, just that the modern design doesn’t appeal as much as the Spider.
But then I’m a sprightly 53 and my younger friends have no idea what the original 1966 Fiat Spider looked like – or why the cool bonnet on the new version really works for me.
It is going to be fascinating to see how the Fiat sells compared to the MX-5. I think there is a place for both in this world but the Spider, it has the legs on the Mazda for me…
The Triumph Herald convertible was a bone-shaker of soft-top – it would rattle and squeak at every opportunity.
My first open top Herald was pretty knackered and the front footwells would fill up with water at the first sign of rain.
But it was where I learnt that the best place to watch shooting stars and meteorites was in an open top car on a clear night in the winter months.
And so it was last night in the MX-5. No leaks of course, just a heated seat, a bit of World Service on the radio and warm air fanning my feet.
I found another use for the Mazda then…
Anybody who can remember the woeful seats in a Citroen 2CV will recall they were probably borrowed from a picnic set and equally as uncomfortable.
Manufacturers have now turned the car seat into an art form. Mercedes pump warm air through the Air Scarf system at neck height – any number of luxury saloons boast massaging seats with heat or cool air.
We have seats that connect to the safety belt – others that electronically shift to preset positions for different drivers. Lumber supports squeeze from every angle these days.
The MX-5? Well, it has speakers hidden in the headrests. That may sound simple and quite obvious but it works exceptionally well on a telephone call.
Sometime the simple things are the most useful tools…
I’m going to cough up from the start – I love the Fiat Spider. It looks retro cool and rather more interesting than the angular and modern Mazda.
It’s all a matter of personal taste but as much as I rate the MX-5, I can’t help hankering for the long, curvy bonnet of the Spider, which reminds me so much of the original Fiat 124 convertible.
There’s no doubt that next summer Fiat and Mazda will be slogging it out for the top roadster spot. The Japanese will beef up its range with the folding hard-top version – Fiat has the faster Abarth model available now too.
There may not be a cigarette paper to choose between them but I’m going to make my mind up over the next seven days.
Can the MX-5 win me back to the fold?
The little white MX-5 is frozen solid this morning – ironic as I’m about to fly to sunny Oman for an adventure with Harley-Davidson.
I did manage to drop the hood yesterday for the first time. It’s joyously simple to use, even though the operation is manual. This saves weight and is faster than a powered hood.
I may be a gentleman of a certain age now but I can’t imagine living with the Mazda on a year-round basis, as good as it is.
That said, there really is nothing out there for £20k that comes anywhere near the MX-5 package.
A folding hard-top version will surely come soon – and then there’s the Fiat sister model coming next year.
For now,the Mazda is still the most fun you can have with your top down . Period.
It can’t be easy re-designing the world’s best-selling roadster but Mazda has done an incredible job.
And they have managed it without the use of a turbo, which is key to the two-seaters charm and appeal. You have to really ‘drive’ the MX-5 to enjoy it most.
That little four-cylinder engine works so sweetly with the six-speed gearbox you wonder why anybody would consider anything else. Well, anybody who actually enjoys using a manual gearbox and clipping the apex of a bend.
Perhaps what’s most incredible about this new model is the fact it’s 100kg lighter than the old one. Fitted with either the torquey 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre engines, it’s the best value convertible out there…
Fiat will bring out their own two-seater convertible next year based on the same platform as the MX-5.
The 124 Spider harks back to the 1970s and, perhaps for the first time, Mazda will have some serious competition in this sector of the market.
Personally, I prefer the looks of the Fiat – although much of the rest of the two cars is the same.
The MX-5 has long been regarded as the MGB of the new millennium. Amazingly, it serves up more passion and soul than the brilliant Porsche Boxster.
And it will cost you about half of the price too…
So, here’s the thing. The problem with anticipating a car bestowed with greatness is that you expect perfection. Something to be wary of in this job.
There’s no doubt that on a sunny day in July, top down and with an English country road winding ahead, the MX-5 is just about the perfect car.
Power from the 2.0 model doesn’t intimidate, it handles brilliantly and the driving position is absolutely bang on. What’s not to like?
However, if you are considering the Mazda as an everyday, all year round two-seater, just remember space is as a premium, it’s noisy on the motorway and anyone over 6ft tall is going to struggle.
The MX-5 makes me smile even on a wild Monday morning in February. But realistically it’s a second car for the winter months and a ‘must have’ for the summer.
Oh dear. I’ve just discovered that I can’t fit my 33-inch trunk suitcase in the boot of the MX-5! I’m driving to Heathrow on Thursday for a trip to Oman but the case will be staying in England it seems.
That might suggest the Mazda only has a small boot. It does but the problem is the opening aperture, which is restricts access to a much deeper luggage area.
I spent yesterday evening on the driveway trying to solve the issue. It was dark and I was wearing a head torch. It must have looked like I was trying to dispose of a body in the trunk as I cursed and juggled the case in from every angle, without success.
All you really need to know is that the Mazda has adequate luggage room for a weekend away with a close friend. There’s no space in the cabin, so pack accordingly…