The day started out with the same weather conditions most convertible owners in the UK are greeted with each morning. Grey clouds, a chilly pinch to the air and the threat of rain showers. Nevertheless, we had gathered a total of four of the worlds best selling sports car to celebrate the MX-5 and mark the passing of the MK3 model.
Looking beautiful in blue, the MK1 is where it all started and this 1.8 litre example was in prime condition. This specific car was actually featured in the studio on the last episode of Top Gear before “Clarkson Gate.” It is a true drivers car full of purity and focuses on incorporating the driver into the mechanical function of the machine, as does every MX-5, but this is genesis.
Sporting a more curvaceous body is the MK2, a car that continued the MX-5’s successful momentum. Whilst it ditched the timeless ever-cool pop-up headlights, this car retained that sweet recipe that makes the MX-5 a true favourite amongst motoring journalists. This particular MK2 car is the Nevada special edition.
The current generation Mazda MX-5 Roadster is certainly the most refined and grownup, but don’t go thinking that it has lost its cheeky lust for fun. Its well engineered chassis makes it not only capable, but also confidence inspiring meaning you can really push on in this car. Perfectly balanced and happy to kick its tail out when provoked, these two facelift 2.0 litre MK3 cars have pretty much come straight off of the boat from Japan and to us for this road trip. Soon to be replaced by the all-new MK4, which we can not wait to get out hands on, this journey severs as a last hurrah for a car that wears its MX-5 badge with pride.
Setting off from the sleepy town of Christchurch gave the locals a magnificent sight. Ordered; MK3, MK1, MK2, MK3, this mobile timeline presented passerby this a very clear view of the MX-5’s past. Driving the lead red car, I couldn’t help but smile when seeing the snake of sports cars dancing in my rear view mirror. Trying to remain in convoy whilst navigating the tight junctions of the historic town was not easy, but there was a beautiful moment whilst circling a roundabout in order to regroup where 25 years of history rotated around one another. Leaving the urban environment behind us, we headed towards Hurn.
From the oldest car with its manually wound windows to the newest that had the luxury of electricity, these joyous toys never missed a beat on the open road. Dropping a cog and surging onward to the New Forest had everybody salivating at the thought of winding country roads. Trees soon sounded us replacing the dull grey sky with a luscious shade of green. Whilst this day would not be remarked for its temperature, summer was coming and the forest knew it. This sort of car allows you to interact with your surroundings much more than any other. You can feel the texture of the tarmac beneath you, the smell of vegetation when the roof is down, all whilst this communicative little machine gives you continuous feedback.
Taking a moment to gather our thoughts and poke around each of the cars, there was a real sense of anticipation in the air. Parked at the foot of a secretive test route Inside Lane uses to assess the handling of each car we review, the promise of “a roller coaster of tarmac” perfect for the MX-5 was enticing. Onwards through the corridor of tress, the narrow road is not unlike that of a forest rally stage. The margin for error is very small with tree trunks and ditches bordering the road. However, the Mazda MX-5 with its low centre of gravity picked off the apexes like a sniper. Clicking through the rifle bolt-like gearboxes, a symphony of inline four cylinder engines filled the air. Leaping from bend with the agility of a gazelle, it is clear to see why this model has generated a cult following over 25 years. These undulating roads lead us to a country pub which served as our pitstop.
Refuelled and raring to go, we pointed the cars towards the south coast as the sun started to peer through the clouds. Now with all of the roofs down, a gentle cruise towards our final stop began. This gave each of us some time to reflect upon how the simple pleasure of driving has been retained through the decades by the MX-5, something which its modern counterparts have somewhat forgotten. Driving along clifftop roads with the sea providing quite the vista, our fantastic four continued. Skirting along seaside towns and then descending onto the promenade of Boscombe beach, the convoy started to attract attention. Following the sand we reached journeys end on Bournemouth beach. Parked up in sequence, engines off, the sound of the sea bathed the cars. Whilst chatting about the trip many people stopped to admire the collection with some even passing on flattering comments. Even people who were not that “clued up” on cars spotted the lineage amongst these ancestors.
The sun finally emerged in time to kiss the MK3 Mazda MX-5 goodbye.
Read our full review of the Mazda MX-5 2.0 Roadster HERE.