Let’s take the Mazda MX-5 RF as an example. We recently had this in our driveway and while I appreciate the way it looks and its ability to provide a somewhat thrilling driving experience, after jaunting in the thing I could say with absolute certainty that it’s not for me. But before I dive into that a bit more, let’s chat specs, etc for those who are keen on knowing the numbers. This hardtop MX-5 has a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 118kW of power at 6 000 r/min and 200 N.m of torque at 4 600 r/min. This is mated with a six-speed automatic transmission that is very much loathed or loved – no in-between. Facebook comments on this model were scathing with people saying “The manual is awesome – the auto ruins it for me…”, Autotragic, open diff, and a bunch of unwanted weight in the worst possible location (folding roof)…”, and “Tell me it’s not an auto please”. Did I say loathed or loved? I meant loathed. People loathe the auto box. I didn’t mind it, to be honest, but as you can tell from the rest of this column, I am not a purist. So, this doesn’t bother me. The hardtop roof is also a contentious issue, but the soft top is not available, so it’s all we’ve got really.
Right, now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you what I would rather have for this money. If you came here for a Mazda MX-5 review, you’re in the wrong place. But fine – get the Mazda MX-5 if you’re in the market for a good-looking convertible that will give you summertime driving fun. It is not for those who love the previous iterations and the manual gearbox. If you’re a sports car enthusiast, you will be disappointed. Ok, back to what I would rather have. At this price of just over half a million rand, I would rather spend my money on a used Volkswagen Caravelle or Kombi. Man, just writing that made me excited, so it really goes to show how far I have come from being the girl who wanted everyone to think she was cool, to becoming the girl who just wants to be comfortable. The Caravelle and/or Kombi in my opinion gives a much more enjoyable drive, has more potential for fun because it’s built for road trips and family fun and it’s just so much more comfortable.
What’s the point of this entire column, I hear you ask? Well, it’s to say that just because you have the money to buy a sports car or something that “blows your hair back” so that you can impress your friends or colleagues – it doesn’t mean that you should. There are better, more practical cars out there that actually do allow for some fun – perhaps it’s not in the driving experience itself, but the possibility of where these cars can take you. A Kombi-type car can take you on an adventure with more than one other person in the vehicle and enough packing space for all the essentials. Isn’t that the type of life we would rather be living right now? I know I would.
Look, the Mazda MX-5 remains a wonderful means of eating up twisty tarmac, with tenacious handling and grip etc. But, this one’s an automatic and that means that instead of snappy clutch-kicking hooliganism, you’re left with wet-sponge gear changes. It removes some of that precision, and certainly a lot of the steering from the rear. Even so, once you get going and certainly here at the coast, that natasp two litre is still a raspy, revvy little thing. I like it still.