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The Goldilocks Problem
I've held off writing this for a couple of weeks to really gather my thoughts on the whole thing and be a lot more balanced on it. As had I wrote this directly after the trip, it'd have been a lot more reactionary.
The MX-5 is out of it's comfort zone on the fast winding roads of Scotland in the company of the AMV8 and F-Type. This didn't come as a surprise to me to be honest. What are it's strengths (which I'll come to later), count against it here. To keep up with the much quicker and more capable cars requires a large amount of effort. That's not to say you couldn't it was really surprising just how well it kept up, it just requires you to spank it fairly relentlessly. We got back from one trip and I'd turned my brake discs blue. Now they hadn't faded at all and braking was still strong, but they were properly up to temperature and juddering a bit, funnily enough like the rally car does when the brakes get really hot. I suspect this is down to the solid disks and gasses between the pads and the discs. Grooved discs would probably solve this. But I digress.
Basically I was pushing quite a lot harder to keep up and that highlighted a major problem in this scenario with the suspension set up of the MX-5. It's too soft and the damping (particularly the rebound) isn't effective enough. Resulting in a couple of heavy bottoming out moments where the car started essentially bouncing, and just generally having to be very wary of the surface of the road when going quickly.
Now I know I harped on and on about the Cayman being too hard, but I also always mentioned that the high speed stability of the thing was superb. Indeed that's when the suspension absolutely worked and was in it's element, hence it was awesome in Scotland last year. Where the MX-5 excels is in Yorkshire where the roads are more narrow, in much worse condition and you're going nowhere near as quickly. In that environment the soft suspension wins over the Porsches firm set up. Indeed the low limits of the car are again in it's favour as it's simply more fun at the lower speeds you run at here.
I've only ever experienced one car that's ever got the balance right, a car with the 'just right' suspension setup. That was the Lotus Evora. It's incredible that it does it without fancy adaptive dampers also. Just a super rigid chassis and perfect suspension/spring/damper setup. It's genuinely magnificent. But my Goldilocks car has a couple of problems. One is that Scotland again nailed on that convertibles completely enhance the experience and the Evora isn't available as one. The second is that quite frankly I can't afford a late model Evora Sport Racer (not bothered for the supercharged version). Which is a shame.
There is a possible solution in modding the MX-5, which isn't as difficult as you'd think. I'd have to talk to the guys at Blink. But I'm fairly sure Rich and Co could come up with a suspension setup that's somewhat progressive for fast road and ride.
The brakes we've covered, and I can't fault the way the MX-5 steers. Also the power on offer is actually quite surprising. As long as I anticipated the other drivers I could keep pace with them, which I really didn't expect. Though there's a mild mod available to make that a little better that I'm also considering. It's whether or not to go ahead with this, or leave it as is, which works perfectly 50 weeks of the year where I live, and just accept that if I take it on a trip it's a bit of a compromise.
It's all being considered anyhow. Currently I'm still trying to stop the engine check light from coming on. One problem at a time methinks!
UPDATE: My own fault, but I also blame Mazda in Horbury Bridge also. They essentially told me that I had to pay for the repair then claim it back. My own fault because I didn't authorise the repair beforehand via the warranty peeps, so when I came to actually ring them up, nope, not paying. Tough titty. Thanks APA Warranties. No really, very understanding of you... So I'm £300 lighter to replace a (allegedly) faulty sensor.
I'm quite pissed off right now, it'll pass...
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