Welcome back to My Wheels, Julie. The last time we saw you (issue 469) you were driving around in a very rare Oullim Spirra S. Have you still got it?
No, I sold it some time ago. It was so much fun but impractical and had no dealer support. I wanted to keep it but my head started to rule my heart and I bought a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL 500. It was fab but I was missing the unique feeling of the Spirra S and when I first saw the RF version of the MX-5 in wheels last year in your Head Start section, I just had to have one.
You had an earlier generation MX-5 back in the UK. They were terrific fun cars to zip around in — is that what made you opt for this one?
My 1989 car, in British Racing Green, was my baby and was so much fun when the sun came out. It hardly had any features to speak of, a very basic manual roof but it was a blast to drive. My partner and I went to the Galadari Mazda Showroom back in January where we enquired about the Retractable Fastback and they managed to get this Machine Grey RF for us which was registered in March.
I really wanted this new model ever since it was launched but not with a soft-top. With the RF you get all the fun of the MX-5 but with the hot weather protection of a coupé. It was a no-brainer but I really did not want to part with my SL 500 — and I was also enjoying driving my partner’s Mini Cooper S convertible during weekends. But, we sold both and I was tempted by the Alfa 4C, which was beautiful but expensive as was the Lotus Evora. We nearly went for the Porsche Cayman but they’re quite common in Dubai. I wanted something more unique than that, so the MX-5 it was.
You were pretty keen on the Ferrari California — any closer to realising that dream?
It was my dream car but I have moved on now to a McLaren 650S Spider. It’s completely outside of my budget but it’s what I want. I see it as a practical Spirra S for the masses! Maybe next year?
Let us know if you get one! These Mazdas have been great to drive from day one — is that still the case?
The new model has grown up beyond recognition. It is in a different league now, but it has retained the MX-5 DNA. It feels like you are driving a car with soul. I loved my Mercedes, it was a great cruiser but it wasn’t a sportscar.
This has a 2.0-litre four-pot mated to a six-speed automatic with (paddle shifters) and makes 160bhp. I wanted a manual transmission but the dealership wasn’t importing any. But the Sport mode helps to make this car come alive; the rear steps out nicely in the corners if you push it and it has more than enough grunt when you need it. The steering is unbelievably good with amazing feedback. It’s a complete package.
I drive it like I have stolen it! It’s a fantastic car and I totally recommend it for petrolheads.
It was the first MX-5 RF to be registered in Dubai wasn’t it?
Yes it was — and I think that the Mazda team were more excited than I was in delivering the car. They were taking pictures of the car and me and making sure everything was perfect. I would like to thank everyone involved in getting me the car — they really pulled out all the stops to make my dream come true.
What do you like best about it?
The unique roof — it’s a work of art. It takes 13 seconds to open or close and you can operate it on the move. It looks like an old British sportscar, but with reliability. For the price, it’s a bargain.
You’ve had some fabulous cars in Dubai from the Spirra S to a Mercedes SL 55, Audi S5 and a Chevrolet Corvette — where does this one rank?
I loved all those cars but the Mazda is so much more fun to drive. It feels like I am doing 200kph when I’m really only going 120kph. That’s the MX-5’s little trick; it never feels slow.
It’s early days but do you have any strange or funny incidents you can share with us about the car?
The navigation was stuck in Egypt and after calling the dealership I was told to drive the car for 100km and the sat-nav would fix itself. I laughed thinking that was nonsense — but after 100km, and if by magic, the navigation sorted itself out and works perfectly now!
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