Dear Pat, to hear is to obey:
On the 27th of July, I picked up my shining new joy: ZTA 833. On that day, we drove down to Werribee, back into Carlton, off to Warrandyte, Kangaroo Ground and Watsons Creek then back to North Balwyn. It was well over 150 km but it didn't feel far. I had made my first discovery; the new MX-5 is much easier to drive over long periods than the Mk 1. With its power steering and more flexible motor, requiring fewer gear changes, it was a breeze to drive. The seats really were comfortable, supportive and so good that after you got into them, you forget them. To be honest I spent the time thinking how much better than expected the car was - because it was so much like the best bits of VMX 589.
The transaction went off well: the car was well prepared and the tank was full. Just as we were about to set off the salesman, Lino, said, "I suppose you'll have the roof up?" I looked aghast and said, "We always drive a sports car with the roof down!" He said with enthusiasm, "Good on you!"
I was so timid driving the new car that we went off into the industrial hinterland of Port Melbourne rather than mix it with six lanes of traffic. It was no time, however, before I was driving it quite happily on the Geelong Road. It is a car that looks much bigger than our Mk 1 but once on the road feels just as small and convenient.
Unfortunately, this illusion was shattered when I had to thread it into the garage where I felt every millimetre of its extra width. It is 1720 mm wide where VMX 589 was 1675 mm. That extra two inches grows constantly in my mind, especially when I think of the 2280 mm garage opening.
Despite a forecast of clouds and 16 degrees, we emerged into a sunny and delightful day. It was only some time later, when we jumped out of the car to take photographs on a high ridge, that we discovered that part of the feeling of a warm and sunny day was created by the very efficient heater. Almost a week later I was taking the car out to Balwyn at 8.00 p.m. and discovered that the efficient heater can even deal with top-down motoring on cold winter evenings.
I scrupulously ran-in the car by observing the injunction not to rev. the motor, run it under load, accelerate quickly, allow the motor to run for long periods at a fixed speed or brake hard. These were Mazda's running-in instructions in the owner's manual (that I read just before leaving the dealership). As I said, I had set a mental rev. limit of 4,500 rpm.
At first I thought the car was very uncommunicative compared to the constantly chattering Mk 1 but on a damp, right-hand, rapidly tightening tollway access ramp, I found all the information I needed - but conveyed with almost sotto voce discretion. This was in sharp contrast to the constant patter of the tyres over road irregularities; on typical 'corrugated' sections of Australian tarmac it was particularly unsettled.
Mid-August was a rapid course in Mk 3.75 appreciation. On the 13th of August we went out to Sassafras, had a delightful lunch at Miss Marple's Teashop and drove on to the Silvan Dam. I was both elated at the car's abilities and disappointed by the ride and skittishness.
On the 15th of August I discovered that the tyres were pumped up to 40 psi, not the 29 psi recommended! That may explain some of the harshness of the ride. After deflating the tyres to the correct pressure, a 200 km trip to Mount Macedon and back revealed the car had lost its nervous 'riding on ball bearings' feeling.
Saturday 17th of August we took a trip, almost entirely by freeway, to Beleura in Mornington. It was wonderful to drive and we went over the 1,000 km mark: no more running-in!
The first service was carried out on the morning of Tuesday the 20th of August, 2013 and despite going over the prescribed time, it went very well. When I rang to book it in, I also asked to have all four wheels aligned; I was warned the alignment would cost $88 AUD. When I collected it, however, after two and a half hours in the workshop, I was told the alignment would be charged to Mazda and the first service would be free (they usually are). That was a very pleasant surprise and the car did feel 'planted'.
In early September we drove down to Mornington. On one of the large, open traffic islands, I needed to exit quickly and thought I would try 7,000 rpm and I discovered the delights of second gear. I learned later that 7,000 rpm is100 km/h in second! It was a seminal moment as it was 20 km/h faster than I thought I was going! The car was telling me exactly what I wanted to know: it reminding me that I had grip and power in reserve. Goodness, this could be a seriously fast point-to-point car!