So here we are at the end of March 2016. The RX-8 R3 has just had another annual service and is showing over 84,000 miles up and is still being driven like I stole it.

The trouble with it is that there’s no real replacement … just yet?

On the horizon we may, just may, have one in the shape of the Mazda RX-Vision.

How cool is that?

Sadly it’s only a two seater and not a 2+2 as the RX-8 is, but who knows? At this stage it’s a concept.

Or should we go for the Mazda MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback)?

Bin There, Done That

So yesterday evening, I went to our company car park to collect my car to discover one of the large bins up against the side of my car and a nice dent on the wheel arch.

Yes, Southwark Council’s waste management operatives had managed to dent my car by wheeling one of their bins into the side of it. Great! So I’m logging a complaint with them now.

Luckily for them it hit mine and not a colleague’s Bentley…

Yes, my RX-8 R3 is coming up to three years old (in a couple of weeks), so last week I took it to Docklands Mazda for them to carry out an MoT test … which it passed with flying colours, even producing 0% carbon monoxide emissions on fast idle and 0.04% carbon monoxide emissions at the natural idle speed.

Mileage? 55,447 miles from new and still going like it should. Plus it still looks great.

So yes, I’m pleased as I tend to hang on to my cars for a few years and there’s frankly nothing I’d want to replace it with at present, especially as Mazda stopped producing them.

I’ve also renewed my tax and insurance for another year, plus I’ll probably extend the Mazda warranty for another year, just in case 😉

The RX-8 was beginning to be a bit of a drift monster in the past few weeks in the wet up North despite no ‘advisories’ when I had it serviced.

With the mileage I’ve been doing – its up to 44,000 miles in two years now – I had been getting concerned I hadn’t replaced the tyres in a long while so after a quick visual inspection I rang around and decided on Kwik-Fit this weekend (the tyres had to be ordered in at over £250 a corner).

So I’ve now had a set of four Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 225/40R19 93Y tyres for the princely sum of £1020 including nitrogen filling.

I was invited by Mazda UK to Brands Hatch today as part of their “Experience Mazda” “Adrenaline Rush” summer series. This was a chance – in my case, in the afternoon – to try out an MX-5 and a Mazda3 MPS on the track. And who was I to say no?!

When I turned up, I realised that the MX-5s they had for us were the new, limited edition Sport Black models: 160ps 2.0 litre engines, retractable hard tops and lots of piano black details. They’d brought along all three colours: Velocity Red Mica (hmm, that doesn’t work with the black features); Crystal White Pearlescent (which does work!) and Spirited Green Metallic which looks so-so in photos but which is great in sunlight. Here are some crappy iPhone shots of the cars:

 

Mazda MX-5 Sport Black Limited Edition

Velocity Red Mica

Crystal White Pearlescent

Spirited Green Metallic

For my first drive, I was paired up with an instructor called Paul who sat beside me in the fab green MX-5 and gave me instructions as to the correct positioning, when to feed in power and when to feather the throttle and when to lift off altogether. After this session we came back in and Paul suggested he’d be happy to be my “wingman” for a later session. Excellent! Sadly, I was asked to wear something with sleeves or have to have the roof up, so despite it being warm and sunny I had to don my Superdry windcheater which was in the back of the RX-8 – I was a tad warm after each session.

I took that as my cue and for my next MX-5 session we teamed up again and with his help put in some faster laps, keeping up even with a Radical! You could tell I was getting quicker as I was needing to grab 4th gear earlier and earlier out of Clark Curve onto the Brabham Straight.

My third session should have been in the more powerful Mazda3 MPS, but:

  1. I don’t like how it looks so I wouldn’t buy one anyway;
  2. Despite loving powerful cars, I was having such a hoot in the beautifully balanced MX-5 that I didn’t want to change; and
  3. I didn’t want to learn a new car, especially a front wheel drive one after the rear wheel drive MX-5 (and my own RX-8 R3).

So I asked the Mazda guys and they said I could carry on with the green meanie (and Paul too!).

For the final rush of the day, I was taken out by another instructor, this time in the passenger seat whilst he showed why he’s a racing driver and I’m not! Much, much faster and pushing the MX-5 to (and almost beyond) the limits of adhesion of the poor tortured tyres.

Talking of which, at the end of a day of being driven ragged around a tight circuit, I was amazed that the MX-5’s tyres looked hardly worn and the brakes still had excellent stopping power despite being very hot. Brake dust sprinkled all down the sides showed how hard the cars had been driven and they’d not complained once.

The Mazda MX-5 Black Sport Limited Edition: understated excellence!

Crash!

Well after driving in to the car park at the London flat last night, having been let down by @tweetalondoncab on Twitter this morning, I got the RX8 out to go to a meeting. Crawling out of the crescent at no more than 2 or 3mph, I got to the off-camber, downhill left turn and immediately slid sideways on the ice-covered snow … and slid into the metal bollards. Ouch! I wasn’t the first either as one of them had been knocked over already. So now Blue RX is a tad dented:

As these sorts of things vanish from manufacturers’ websites and YouTube from time to time, I thought I’d convert and upload the official Johnny Herbert road/track test video:

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