Sunday 27 September 2015

MX-5 VIP Driving Day

Today I spent several hours zooming across the Peak District in a new MX-5. If you follow this website you may have previously seen a post about my earlier VIP test drive, today's event was similar but with a longer drive time and a complimentary picnic hamper.

The venue this time was the David Mellor Design museum in the village of Hathersage. The museum showcases some of his famous cutlery designs and also the traffic lights and signals he designed. The museum itself is also a cafe and the decor includes a working traffic light which made for an interesting venue.
The day started badly. A heavy mist had descended across the valley over night giving the area a dull grey coating and very poor visibility - not what you want for spirited driving. After the previous day's great weather I was a little worried our luck had run out and the test drive would be spoiled by this murky fog. Fingers crossed it would lift in time.
I arrived at around 9am to be greeted by the same Mazda rep team as at the previous event. After registering with them and being handed our ID tags, there were some coffee and pastries available while we waited to be shown around the car. There were probably around 50 cars available, and having previously driven a 2.0 Sport, this time I opted for the lower powered 1.5 SE-L in Soul Red.

Our rep Jason showed us to the car and recommended some routes before programming them into the car's Mazda Connect navigation system. He then explained that it was really up to us where we wanted to go, as long as the car was brought back of course.
This was my opportunity to find out for myself how the two engines compare as I'd heard a few comments about the 1.5 being the more fun to drive and having more compliant suspension better suited to UK roads. Overall my own view was similar. Yes the 2.0 Sport does benefit from some 30 more bhp, but it's also heavier and has a firmer ride. The 1.5 engine can be revved higher, and although it does feel a little weak in terms of power there's not a huge difference between the two. This one was mine for the day...
Getting behind the wheel I pushed the clutch in and watched as the light on the start/stop button turns from orange to green. Pressing the button, the engine barks into life with a pleasing note. Starting in Hathersage our route (which was pretty much made up as we went along) took us across the spectacular Peak District, through Glossop via Snake Pass and on towards Barnsley past the Torside and Woodhead Reservoirs. Thankfully the mist did clear as the morning went on, eventually the sun woke up and stayed out all afternoon. I wasn't the only one enjoying the scenery; the roads were busy with many cyclists, ramblers, runners, motorcylists, a classic car run, even the odd horse, though none of that spoiled the fun I was having behind the wheel.
Eventually I stopped for some photos and opened up the picnic. I was impressed by this as it had a good selection of sandwiches, flapjacks, fizzy drinks, posh crisps, cheese, crackers, chutney, some sweets, chocolate, and water. Mazda even included a picnic rug, which along with the cool bag, we got to keep at the end of the day.

I didn't notice the mileage at the time but I'd say we easily covered over 100 miles after looking back at the route. Overall this was another great event from Mazda with some of what must be the best driving roads in the country.