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With our unpredictable summer, the electric folding roof on our Maxda MX-5 has had more use this month than it would usually have in a year. On one day alone I had the roof up and down five times, thanks to showers.
Since I’ve had the car I’ve noticed how many others are on the road and with the Roadster Coupe’s combination of hard-top and soft-top in one car, it’s no surprise that sales are booming.
Mazda has sold more MX-5s in fleet this year than Renault has Lagunas (1,800 vs 1,700).
Granted, the Laguna may be in run-out mode but the little Mazda is doing very well, with sales up 36% year-to-date as it which counters fleet managers’ resistance to fabric-roof cars and the security implications which go with them.
The general public’s appetite for convertibles seems to be insatiable, too, but one thing I’ve discovered is that it’s handy to have another four-seater car at home. Luckily we own a Ford Focus which, like the Mazda’s roof, has had more than its fair share of use over the past few months.
If my dad visits for the weekend, we need to transport three people. Throw in a couple of friends the following weekend or a visiting sibling and the Mazda sits redundant on the driveway. Stylish – yes, practical – no.
This situation is pretty galling as I absolutely love driving this car. The fun factor is still paramount and it seems to be more fun each time I get behind the wheel.
Mind you, it does take a while to get used to driving a two-seater sports car, mainly because of the driving position.
And the seats are not height adjustable, which means I can see a lot less of the road than in a four-seater. But it doesn’t take long to settle in, especially when the roof is down and the sun is shining.
I have discovered one major niggle – I’ve yet to master the art of exiting the car in a dignified manner, due to its floor-skimming proportions.
Most of the time I don’t mind clambering out in an ungainly manner but on days when I’m tired, it’s a different story as it does require extra effort. Drivers with back problems could also find it difficult.
I had to collect the mother-in-law with a bad back the other week. I managed to get her into the car but had to pull her out the other end – she now requests I pick her up in the Focus, which means another day with a redundant MX-5.
The only option for the rest of the summer is to ban visiting relatives and friends so I can spend my time enjoying the sunshine (if it ever appears again) in the Mazda.
Price: £21,265 (£21,590 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 193
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £95 per month
Insurance group: 13
Combined mpg: 34.5
Test mpg: 33.0
CAP Monitor RV: £8,600/41%
Contract hire rate: £385
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles