Concluding our long-term winter test
Winter with the MX-5 isn’t a dealbreaker – far from it – but it does require a little more care and attention, as with any rear-drive car.
Last August, I had the opportunity to check out something I’ve had long respected: the Mazda MX-5. A light-weight sports convertible in the middle of the summer? What could be better? I looked for any and every excuse to get behind the wheel. Not surprisingly, I spent a lot of time with the trick power retractable hard top stowed away. I greatly enjoyed that week with the MX-5 and was very sad to have to return it. Long story short: the MX-5 is my ideal weekend warrior. I could definitely see myself owning one as part of a two-car portfolio – the other car being something practical, efficient, and up to the rigours of daily life (read: wagon).
Some people don’t have always the choice of maintaining a two-car setup, and end up driving their summer cars year round. The winter season hasn’t been kind to us lately in Toronto, with blasts of extreme cold and generous servings of snow. In light of the weather, Mazda Canada handed us the keys to a loaded MX-5 GT for a long-term test. Would the MX-5 handle the rough winter as well as it does the summer?
The GT model this time around adds heated leather bucket seats, HID low-beam headlamps (much welcomed), intelligent keyless entry, and Bluetooth integration, among a few other items. The heated seats proved to be useful in the extreme cold, with five different settings to suit your tastes. The GT-exclusive Bluetooth should really trickle down into lesser trims – expect Mazda to go this route when the next MX-5 is released. The powertrain remains the same: a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, mated to an excellent six-speed manual transmission.
The first step to successfully dealing with the Canadian winter is to be equipped with the proper winter tires. Thankfully, Mazda fitted a set of Michelin Primacy Alpin winter tires on the standard wheels. For the most part, they did a great job in the city. However, I did almost get stuck twice on my way downtown on some inclines. The light weight that was such an asset in the summer became somewhat of a hindrance even with the good rubber. The limited-slip differential (standard on the GS and GT) was a big help in being able to stay moving, though.
The power retractable hard top does a surprisingly good job at keeping heat in and occupants warm. It’s even effective enough at holding up to automated touch-less car washes. I was a little concerned whether it would spring a leak, but I managed to stay dry. From what I’m seeing on the internet, your car wash results may vary. Like my colleagues, I did dare to spend a little time with the top down with my toque on and the heat on full blast. Doing this does get a lot of reaction from people around you in traffic, ranging to confusion, to laughter, to two thumbs up.
Winter with the MX-5 isn’t a dealbreaker – far from it – but it does require a little more care and attention, as with any rear-drive car. Given the choice, would it be my only mode of transport through all seasons? Probably not. Winter tires are mandatory, and I would think twice about venturing out in blizzard conditions. Nevertheless, I do know of several people who drive and enjoy their MX-5s year round. It’s these people who understand that the answer to every question is always: Miata.
Long-Term Test Conclusion: 2014 Mazda MX-5 GT Gallery