The MX-5 has been one of the most highly rated cars we've driven. You can see the more in-depth review here. It's a perfect 10, but there's so much more to it than its figures. So when Mazda Philippines sent me a white MX-5 to attend their Miata Cup in Clark International Speedway last weekend, I made sure that I cleared my schedule.
Maan and I set out for Clark after lunch on Sunday. Since we had the automatic MX-5, we decided to cruise our way through the kind Sunday traffic. I wish all days were as decongested as this. While driving on EDSA, I noticed that we don't give enough credit to the ride quality of this roadster. It is on the stiff side, but because it's so light, there isn't a lot of mass that slams onto the ground. I never feel like my internal organs are shaken up.
When we entered NLEX, the MX-5 just settled nicely on the road. The smooth roads perfectly complemented the car's cruiser-like intentions. In as much as I will always agree that the MX-5 is a stunning and pure sports car, I also cannot discard that it's a supremely great car to cruise in - especially if you opt for the automatic transmission. I really do love the way it blips perfectly on every downshift. It is absolutely soulful.
Finally, we arrived at the speedway. When we did, there were some classic Minis beating up the track. It's such a nice sight to see a wide variety of cars scattered around the premises. The historic sports cars of the Manila Sports Car Club are a classic car enthusiast's dream.
After parking the roadster, we headed to Mazda's hospitality suite to chat with Mikko David and Maricar Dela Cruz of Mazda Philippines. I thanked them countlessly for reacquainting me with one of my favorite cars in the world. They also patiently explained the mechanics of the cup. They would be running two of their MX-5s on the track alongside some privately owned cars, from the first generation NA models to the current ND cars. The essence of the cup is about driving consistently on the track. While they would be qualifying for track position, the results were based on lap times and consistency.
I do appreciate Mazda's efforts to bring back the spark of local motor racing in the country. I think that our generation is somewhat losing the essence of grassroots racing, which is truly the purest form of motorsports. It's all about pushing each other, finding your limit, and having fun on the track - which I believe is what real racing is all about. The MX-5 is the perfect car to do it in. It is so raw and so pure. It isn't the most powerful car, which means that consistency and momentum is key. It only takes one mistake in a corner to destroy your entire lap, making it easier to separate the good drivers from the great ones. it was a real joy to watch.
There's more than one road to driving thrills.
The real treat for me was being able to chat briefly with Mazda Philippines' President, Steven Tan. I met him many years ago in the Bangkok International Motor Show during my infancy years with the Philippine motoring media. He says he no longer remembers treating me to some Tiger Beer. This man is credited to the success of the entire Kodo line locally.
He is the reason why Mazda does not sell watered down cars in the Philippines. We get full features each and every time, from cutting edge technology, gorgeous aesthetics, and now, the wonderful diesel engines. I appreciate that he knows that our country deserves the best from Mazda, and that's why we have beautifully equipped cars in our shores.
Another special person I met during the race was Mr. Nobuhiro Yamamoto. If you must know, he is a God-like figure in Mazda Motor Corporation, who has played a key role in the development of the MX-5 through the years. He spearheaded the development of the current ND MX-5 as well as the rotary engined, RX-7 FD. If you are a fan of motor racing, he was also one of the engineers that helped develop something called the 787B. Yeah, the Le Mans winning 787B.
This man is straight out of your Gran Turismo dreams, I tell you. Today, he is an MX-5 ambassador. I have never met a man more passionate about something he created. It isn't a passion that speaks of the effort and amount of work that has gone into making the car perfect, but more towards love and adoration of how the car delivers sensations to the driver that aren't found in others. Instantaneously, it is much easier to understand why the MX-5 is such a special car.
"His insatiable smile was all I needed to see, to know that the MX-5 exists for people like us, who see them as more than just a car."
I stood in the pit area as countless MX-5s entered the pits after a workout on the track. It hit me that the age group of the drivers ranged from young guys to older seniors, and the one thing they had in common was a smile they couldn't keep. The one memory that best sums up the entire experience was that of an old man, patting his steering wheel as he brought his car to a halt, almost to affirm his car of a job well done. His insatiable smile was all I needed to see, to know that the MX-5 exists for people like us, who see them as more than just a car.
As the sun started to set, I dropped the top of the MX-5 and drove out the track premises feeling a lot more connected to its heritage. With the sun ever so gently gracing the long bonnet and with the wind blowing through my hair, every corner I carved as the engine screamed through the rev range was a nod to the fine people that developed this emotional and evocative tool they call an MX-5. It is sensational in the way it makes the driver an integral part of its charm and magic. Cars ought to be honored to have the MX-5 classified as one of their kind.
Glass and steEl turned into adrenaline and emotion.