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The King Of The Road

by Kevin Cain

Not so very long ago whilst I was still sporting a full head of hair and before journalism stole me away to other pastures, it was my good fortune, or not, to have been an English teacher. I was detailed to teach a class at the Mazda car plant near Amata City on the Eastern Seaboard. I had never before visited the vast trading estates just off Highway 7 and was quite amazed by the plethora of Multinational Blue Chip companies that had invested in Thailand. Just about every industry was represented from all the top global companies around the world.

My first impression of the magnificent Mazda facility was one bordering awe, of course my classroom was in the spotless and very high-tech office wing of the factory, but the futuristic and modern theme seemed to continue everywhere. The visitor is first greeted by a huge, glass fronted atrium that looks out on the manicured lawns encompassing the driveway. Two gleaming brand new Mazda models in shimmering metallic crimson red greet you as you enter.

I have always liked Mazda cars, even back twenty years ago when Japanese design was not quite what it is today. I actually owned one of the revolutionary RX-8 models which was one of my favourite ever cars, but standing out from the range was always the little two-seater roadster the MX-5.The MX-5 was first announced to the world at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, with all the bland jelly mold designs churning out of factories it was a delight to see what looked in essence like a proper old-fashioned English sports car.

The lightweight, two-seater, roadster with the engine mounted in the front and rear wheel drive was a breath of fresh air to the motoring world. It was designed to have minimum mechanical complexity so it would do one thing that the old English sports cars of the past sometimes were not particularly good at, it would not break down, the MX-5 was reliable as an old armchair.

Also the MX-5 has always looked stunning, it is the pure simplicity of the design that is the beauty of the vehicle. No protruding flared wheel arches or garish rear spoilers, it came from the same classy breeding stock as the splendid Triumph Spitfire or the legendary Lotus Elan.

So it is fitting and proper that such a classy motor, twenty seven years after it first rolled off the production line was named as the 2016 World Car Of the Year. This new 4th generation MX-5 Miata is lighter and more compact than it's predecessor, and it beat two very strong contenders to win the coveted award, namely Audi's new A4 and the Mercedes GLC.

Mazda cite that the key to the success of the new MX-5 is the latest development of Skyactiv technology which continues to set new benchmarks in automotive engineering in both the 1.5 and the 2.0 litre versions.Agreed it is not particularly the fastest sports car on the road, and it perhaps it does not offer the high specifications of a BMW or Mercedes. But the cost also reflects this and it is affordable to all. The Mazda MX-5 is made and designed to do what all its predecessors did, and that is to have fun and enjoy motoring.

You are just as likely to see a man wearing a cloth cap as a young boy racer driving this classic car. And that is its beauty, the Mazda MX-5 is a car just about everybody likes and all and sundry can drive it, and more to the point everyone will look the part.

Also the Mazda RX-VISION has won the 2016 Car Design Award in the concept car category for the most noteworthy contribution to the evolution of automobile design. This is another striking sports car accolade for Mada’s sport’s car prototype as it also won “Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year” at the 31st Festival Automobile International held in Paris back in January.

Kevin Rice Mazda’s european design director said when accepting the recent prize at the Turin Motor Show:

Obviously I’m delighted at the recognition we’re getting at Mazda for our efforts, not only in the design arena but also for the technology that enables our vehicles to live up to what their looks promise”.