Review and photos by Justin Pritchard
I try to drive some variant of the Mazda MX-5 every year, because of how it captures the joy of sports motoring in such a pure, simple and concise way. Regular driving of the MX-5 helps establish a baseline from which to compare competing products.
Perspective, and such.
2013 Mazda MX-5 GS. Click image to enlarge
Over the years, this means I’ve taken the little Japanese drop-top camping, on road trips, around town, and on cruises to check out the fall colors. We’ve even gone to drift school together and driven far out of town to visit friends for a weekend at the beach.
This all got me thinking that there was only one place I hadn’t yet driven the MX-5 yet: winter.
So, I picked up the latest MX-5 tester in Scarborough on a sunny mid-February morning with a whopping 80 kilometres on its odometer, before heading north, to Sudbury, to show the young ragtop its first snowstorm.
“But it’s a summer car! It’s light! Its rear-wheel drive! You’ll skid and slide and crash into a snowbank the moment you release the clutch!!” said the disapproving glances of many motorists who saw it out in the snow.
Thing is, more than ever these days, automakers are answering the call of shoppers for more ‘year-round ready’ convertibles. Case in point? The now virtually standard Power Retractable Hard Top (PRHT) fits MX-5 with a solid, motorized roof for more insulation from the elements. It’s now easier for MX-5 owners to join the slew of convertible Mustangs, 200s, A5s, and C70s sharing Canadian roads with snow and slush and ice and salt.
So, me and the little Japanese roadster did a few thousand kilometres together over the course of about 10 days – and survived 2 ‘snow days’, freezing rain, and about 400 highway kilometres in a Weather Network–certified, “stay off of the roads, folks” snowstorm.
This all took place some six months after driving a mechanically identical MX-5 at a track day for what I figured, at the time, was an unrelated story.
I was wrong. Turns out that a lot of the attributes and hardware that make the MX-5 fun on a track make it a decent winter drive, too.
First and foremost? A fifty-fifty weight distribution. A slack-jawed yokel refueling his Canyonero beside me at the Petro-Can posed the following inquiry: “Ah-hee-hee-hee!!! Ain’t she light in the arse-end?!!??”
I explained to this fella’ how perfect weight distribution works. Yes, my “little red hippie car” (his words, not mine) was light in the tail – and just as light in the front. Each axle bears about the same amount of weight – so it’s no lighter in front than in the arse. He looked at me like I had two heads.