Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Everyone's favorite roadster, the Mazda MX-5, has turned 30 and I've had the pleasure to participate to the #30x30mazdamx5 event organized by Ruoteclassiche for the occasion...
Back in 2008, little did I know that the 1997 "NA" 1.8 I had just bought was going to be the first of a long and ongoing series!
Now on my fourth MX-5, it's hard for me to even imagine driving something else... But let's go back to where it all began.
My black 1.8 was a '97, so from the last year of the original "NA" models, and it's linked to many great memories, mainly consisting of summer jaunts to the French Riviera, but also driving through France to the UK, where a red Jag was waiting for me...
It's been a peach of a car, the only car I've ever owned I kind of regret selling...
... Which brings us neatly to the MX-5 I put more kilometres on: a 2003 second-gen "NB" model I drove all around Europe with great satisfaction. I believe the "NB" generation is an underrated car, as it was such an improvement over the "NA" cars: much stiffer body, sharper turn-in, glass rear window and better interior appointments... But no less fun on Alpine roads than the earlier car was. What's not to like?
As good the silver "NB" was, by 2014 I wanted a more modern vehicle: easier motorway cruise, less noise, more space and comfort... So I was ready for the third-gen "NC" MX-5 generation, a loaded 1.8 with retractable hardtop... Decadent luxury!
Recently the "NC" has received some unfair press, when compared to the current model: I loved mine to bits and I maintain that its classic design will probably age better than the (albeit rather pretty) newer models. The 2005 "NC" gen held the market for 10 years and yet felt barely dated by the time it was gone.
Its rather high seating position made it feel much bigger and heavier than the previous "NB" models, even if both numbers weren't much different.
Where the "NC" really shone, compared to earlier models, is how easier to live with it was. Still a ton of fun, but no sacrifices needed on comfort and safety.
Then, one night, I stayed awake until 2 am to witness the live reveal of the brand-new "ND" generation, and the moment I saw it I knew I had to have it.
This time there was no excuse: my fourth MX-5 had to be bought new.
Too many enthusiasts complain there aren't affordable sports cars available... Forgetting that car makers aren't in the charity business: they make cars to sell them and make money... Mazda designed a brilliant product and it deserved to be rewarded. This time I was dead-set on putting my wallet where my mouth is.
So there it was: this all-black 1.5 Luxury, quietly sitting behind the dealership windows. Went in, signed on the dotted line. Probably the best decision I've ever taken.
The new MX-5 has delivered on its promise big time: it's the smallest ever, much lighter than the "NC" model, yet retaining contemporary comfort and safety... I can't find a better example of automotive engineering progress.
I sense this fourth little Mazda roadster won't be my last...