When the Arctic white Mazda MX-5 RF was delivered, my eyes widened with apprehension. It looked smaller than a Maltese poodle’s holiday retreat. Imagine my amazement, then, when I peeled back the door and managed to slide my 6-foot 4-inch frame into the soft, low-slung seating with reasonable ease. Well played, Mazda.
With more than 1.1-million of the models traded over the past 30-odd years, the MX-5 has become a Guinness World Record-holding coupe with pizazz, attitude and a certain flair that allows us regular citizens affordable access to the glamorous world of coupes and roadsters.
Create something that allows inspirational achievability and sports-like performance coupled with reliability and approachability. The recipe has worked for three decades, so what could go wrong?
Combine Lotus symbiotic bloodlines with Porsche overtures, tweak it with a BMW previous generation rear end and you have an eye-catching, sports car at a fraction of the price. Thirteen quick seconds is all it takes to convert from solid roadster to frivolous fun mobile – it works with mechanical precision and will draw enough envious looks to make you choke on your caramel latte.
The three-spoke steering wheel, with the usual functionality, is presented with a low-slung, go-kart-like seating position. I spent some dreary traffic hours in the MX-5 expecting my lower back to assassinate me, but surprisingly I managed the four-odd hours with minimum fuss. I just removed my shoes when driving; the pedals do not leave any space on the left. Visibility is more than adequate and the electronic interface offers Apple car play and Android options as standard. The interior is sporty with just enough functionality to make it appealing. Dials and gadgets allow the driver to navigate and steer with most buttons easily reachable — just don’t expect up-market finishes.
It’s fast, quirky, sublimely precise and deceptively quick. The MX-5 handles corners and sweeps with enough composure to rival vehicles twice its reasonable price tag. With such a feather-light chassis you do not need the gravity-defying power of a big engine. The 118kW, available in the two-litre cola bottle, is more than enough to let you have a creative outing of hooliganism when you need it.
It’s light on juice and post-apocalyptic on space; so do not expect to be taking your Louis Vuitton three-piece luggage with you on a road trip. Think minimalistic and you will travel in ecstasy, if you’re a hoarder, this is not the transport option for you.
This the Muhammad Ali of coupes — it is quick, floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee and delivers exhilarating, affordable fun for the discerning scenic obsessive with no family responsibility or luggage. Petrol heads apply here.
Mazda MX-5 RF
Price R538 000
Engine 2-litre inline 4 16V
Top speed 178km/h