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Happy 25th Birthday to the Mazda MX-5 Part 2

Feature contributed by Sam Bisby, who is a member of the team at the Stoneacre Motor Group – specialists in 13 of the world’s top manufacturers, including, of course, Mazda.

Growing up

Revealed at the 1997 Tokyo motor show, the second-generation Mazda MX-5 was handed a more modern body and gone were the pop-up headlamps which were now deemed unsafe. The 1.6 and 1.8-litre options remained, but power output was upped to 140bhp for the most potent version and anti-lock brakes were now offered. Meanwhile, the car gained a bit of weight, too, tipping the scales at 1000kg.


A 10th Anniversary model followed in 1999 which bolstered the standard MX-5 with features such as a six-speed manual gearbox and Blistein shock absorbers, along with two-toned black leather and blue alcantara seats. A facelift two years later saw the MX-5 take on a slightly more aggressive look and acquired a limited slip differential among other additions.


Time for an overhaul

The second-generation Mazda MX-5 had not fared as well as its predecessor in terms of sales and something had to be done to rectify this. As a result, the Mk3 was a revolution for the MX-5 on all accounts.

Besides side-panel turning lights, not a single component was brought over from the previous model, and underneath, the MX-5 had changed drastically. A modern suspension set-up was introduced, while technology such as traction control and stability control were also brought in to make the car more driveable for all motorists.

Another massive step was the removal of the 1.6 as an engine option, with the 1.8 becoming the car’s smallest displacement. A new 2.0-litre powertrain entered the frame with an output of 158bhp, the 1.8 now producing 126bhp.


In 2006, the convertible fabric roof was joined by a second option in the form of a very clever metal folding hard-top. The UK lapped up the chance to buy a car with sleek coupe looks that also allowed for the open-top experience and healthy sales in Britain are the reason we will be getting a hard-top option with next year’s fourth generation MX-5.

A further facelift in 2008 is the version of the MX-5 we know today and is a car that now offers 167bhp from its 2.0-litre engine; the 1.8 remains at 126bhp.


Looking to the future

Sales for the Mazda MX-5 broke the world record for the best-selling two-seater sports car back in 2000 with 531,890 having left the factory and figures to date have so far surpassed 900,000 units sold.

*Hopefully This*

The next MX-5 is being developed in tandem with Alfa Romeo, but not much has been revealed from a technical standpoint, most of the talk has been surrounding the car’s exterior design, although Mazda’s new SkyActiv technology will no doubt enter the fray.

We will all expect the next MX-5 to carry the torch of being the UK’s favourite two-seater into its fourth generation. There’s little worry of it failing to do so, with the company enjoying renewed momentum thanks to the new Mazda6 and Mazda3 models showing us that the manufacturer is very much on form in this current day.

So, here’s to another 25 years!


Editor’s Notes: Check out Part One: Happy 25th Birthday to the Mazda MX-5 here if you missed it on www.simonscarspots.com

For a great deal on your next car,  call 08433 083 758. You can also follow them on Twitter @StoneacreMotors or interact with Sam himself at @S_J_Bizzle


Happy 25th Birthday to the Mazda MX-5 Part 1

Feature contributed by Sam Bisby, who is a member of the team at the Stoneacre Motor Group – specialists in 13 of the world’s top manufacturers, including, of course, Mazda.

The weather in the United Kingdom isn’t exactly what you’d call exotic.

It’s certainly not a climate where it would be easy to successfully engage in a spot of open-top motoring on a regular basis. Despite this, the UK seems to be the adopted home of the ever-popular Mazda MX-5.

The UK is the MX-5’s best-selling market in Europe – we have had a bit of a soft-spot for Mazda’s sporty roadster number since it was launched back in 1989.


The feisty MX-5 will turn 25 in February and a full quarter of a century since it debuted at the Chicago motor show, it seemed only natural to pay tribute to an industry legend and explore its history.

Let’s take a look at how the MX-5 came to be and pay tribute to the first generation car that spawned a new generation of car enthusiasts across the world.

Creating an icon

In the late 80s, lightweight sports cars had all but died out following the glory years of the two decades before; the Lotus Elan, Austin Healey, MG Midget and Triumph Spitfire all having their day in sun come to an abrupt end.

However, Mazda engineers were brewing a plan to revive such a car; one that would allow them to stand out from other rival Japanese manufacturers and offer a car that harked back to the classic British two-seaters of the 60s and 70s.

Such plans were initially met with resistance by Mazda’s senior executives, but the passion of the engineers and designers behind the project eventually won over the top brass at the company and they got to work.

At first, the layout of the MX-5 was hotly disputed. One party was keen to have the car either front-engined and front-wheel drive or mid-engined and rear-wheel drive, while other wanted a front-engine/rear-wheel drive set-up. The latter design was codenamed the Duo 101 and went onto be the layout we know and love today.

As a result of going with a front-engine/rear-wheel drive set-up, a brand new powertrain would have to be developed in order to maximise the enjoyment of the car in regards to agility and balance. The end result led to the project engineers coining the phrase “Jinba Ittai” – Rider and Horse as one.

Entering the world

The Mazda MX-5 Mk1 emerged publicly for the first time at the Chicago motor show in February 1989 and subsequently went on sale in the spring of that year. Armed with a naturally aspirated 1.6 or a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, the first MX-5 produced 115bhp or 128bhp respective of which displacement you chose.

The car’s body was made entirely from steel, while the bonnet was made from lightweight aluminium, resulting in a kerb-weight of a mere 940kg.

To be an affordable two-seater, the first Mazda MX-5 did without a whole host of features we take for granted on more modern vehicles, with power steering, electric windows, stereo and air con all absent on the Mk1.

The initial reception for the MX-5 was very favourable, especially in UK and was celebrated as such with a special Limited Edition model finished in British Racing Green combined with a tan interior.


Editor’s Notes: Watch out for Part Two: Happy 25th Birthday to the Mazda MX-5 coming soon to www.simonscarspots.com where Sam will be looking at the MX-5 generations that followed…

For a great deal on your next car,  call 08433 083 758. You can also follow them on Twitter @StoneacreMotors or interact with Sam himself at @S_J_Bizzle

Mazda 3 Sport Nav 185ps diesel (is it a Q-Car) from Simon Ford @Sf4d74,

Here at SimonsCarSpots.com we like a good Challenge of Driving cars from Manufactures and Giving you our views/opinion/verdict, and today is no exception,

Over the last few Months we have Tested City cars, 4×4’s, Mid-range cars, Luxury cars, But never a Q-Car….Well untill today that is.

Now as you may or may not know, a Q-Car is a high performance model that looks (from the outside) like a standard car, and doesn’t attract unwanted attention from the Police, Eg think ‘Lancia Thema 8:32′, ‘Peugeot 405 m16′

As we also know!, Q-Cars are usually the petrol derived variants from car manufactures, these days with the economy being the way it is, why can’t we include diesels and open up the definition of Q-cars and why the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav 185 ps’  might! be included.

The Mazda 3 Sport Nav isn’t an out and out Sports Model, It’s Mazdas way of naming their line up, Tamura, Venture and Sport Nav being Mazdas top of the range version


Mazda have created a fresh yet Sporty look to the Mazda 3 Range, it’s good looking, understated yet Striking!, at the same time also has some neat little touches like the Sculpted bonnet and flared wheel arches, which are also present throughout the Mazda 3 Range.

What makes the Sport Nav stand out from the rest of the Range on the exterior front I hear you ask?

Well there’s Privacy Glass, 10 Spoke Alloys (17″), Honeycomb Grille, Side Skirts and a Sport Badge, But you also Get these with the exception of the Sport Badge on All Mazda 3’s,

So Far So Good as a Q-Car then!.


Open the door to the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ and the first thing that you notice are the cowled dials on the dashboard instantly giving a sporty appearance before you’ve even sat down, Once you’ve sat down you begin to notice everything else around you bit by bit.

All the information you’ll ever need, Trip computer with economy figures are directly above and to the left of the dials, next to that is your lcd  for heater settings,

Then the centre console, you have the Sat Nav (very easy to operate by touchscreen) below that are your Dual Climate Controls (many buttons), + Heated Seat Buttons, (1 being warm 5 being toasted) then there’s the Button Filled Steering Wheel for cruise control, Stereo, + Information, It’s all nicely laid out, good quality plastics and soft touch hard wearing materials, but there are just so many buttons, saying that if you like buttons, then you’ll be in button heaven in the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’.

Again what makes this car a Q-Car I hear you all ask?

Well NOTHING! it’s essentially the same as the rest in the Mazda 3 range, well made, good quality product.

Ride + Driving

Now this is where a Q-Car will either be made or Broken in it’s driving experience,

I took the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ from Letchworth to Glasgow then onto Loch Lomond and Luss (in very challenging weather conditions) a distance of 460 miles .

Through the country roads of the A507 heading to the M1 the Mazda felt very good driving through all the twisty stuff, with very little body roll, no bumping through uneven surfaces, the Front Mcphearson and the rear E-type multi-Link suspension with monotube Dampers doing a fantastic job of dealing with all the hard work whilst making the driving experience sure footed and enjoyable everytime I pushed it.

Onto the Motorway itself and this is where the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ comes to it’s own,

With a (claimed) 0-60 time of 8.9 seconds the middle sized Mazda will join main carraigeways very safely and easily, demolish miles and miles of motorways with Ease, also there’s 400nm of torque available to play with, so overtaking middle lane hoggers who are doing 60mph means you’ll just blitz past.

Mazda claim a top speed of 132mph from The 2.2 litre diesel, but It’s the way the power is distributed that makes this a brilliant engine and well suited for this particular version, with the Turbo kicking in at 1900rpm once your moving it’s always there at your disposal

My only gripe with the Sport Nav was it’s Gearbox, (although a small gripe) and that was between 2nd-3rd gear the spacing seems a little stretched especially if you try to hurry your changes, otherwise very smooth indeed.

Economy wise Mazda claim a combined figure of 52mpg with a co2 of 144g/km (£135 a yeat to Tax), on my trip I managed 48.6mpg which is still good and meant my 460 mile trip cost me only £50 in diesel

With a Torquey engine, good bhp, respectful Economy ‘The Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ as a Q-Car keeps getting better.


Being Mazdas Top of the Range Model the Sport Nav comes well equipped as Standard, some of the features include, Cruise Control, Intergrated 4.1″ Sat Nav, Premium Bose sound system, Heated seats with 5 settings, Dual Climate Control, Welcome Mode Lighting, and Everything else You’d expect from a modern car nowdays, Yet suprisingly No Parking Sensors as standard

Standard Safety Features include,

MAIDAS – Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System, 4W-ABS, EBD, EBA, DSC, ESS, + Traction Control


Overal Verdict

Mazda Have Made a Very Well Built, Well Equipped, Great Engined, Mid sector car competing with the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Vw Golf.

At £20,995 it’s not the cheapest car in it’s class, nor the most class leading in it’s sector, It has a couple of faults, like too many buttons, average sized boot, and a tricky 2nd-3rd gear if rushed, but it does have that Good Engine, It’s Descreet, Fast, Fun to drive, Eats the miles easily, (remember no Q-Cars are perfect thats the appeal).

Ok Ok!, I know the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ Isn’t a Q-Car, but don’t you think we should consider some modern day diesel variants from ‘Low Volume Car Manufacturers’ as Replacements, If so! then I Bagsy the ‘Mazda 3 Sport Nav’ goes in first!.



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