Wednesday, April 07, 2010


The devastation left by the hail storm that swept across the city just over two weeks ago is slowly being repaired. Paths and roads have been cleared, broken glass has been swept up, and men with clipboards have wandered about peering at shattered skylights and pock-marked cars, tutting gently to themselves.

One such man employed by my insurance company took a look at my MX5 and declared it to be a write-off. I was allowed to keep it for a few days in order to get around, but they took possession of it last Thursday. Fortunately later that day I took delivery of my new MX5, so the transition was relatively painless.

My original green 1998 MX5:

My new silver 2001 MX5:

There are a few differences between the two, other than the fact that the silver one is three years younger, has done 14,000 fewer kilometres, and doesn't have issues with wheel bearings or timing belts.

Cosmetically the newer car has a redesigned front bumper and different wheels, which give it a stubbier, less sinuous appearance. Most of my friends have said that they prefer the new look, but personally I can see merit in both. The old one took a few blatant styling cues from the contemperous Jaguar XK8, making it sleeker and more feline. However the new one is probably a more cohesive design, and the silver colour brings out the lines better... and it'll be a lot easier to keep clean.

Mechanically the new car has a 6th gear and a boot release button on the keyfob, two things I'd identified as lacking on the old car. It also has a better stereo, more comfortable seats, new tyres and stylish white-faced instruments with chromed trim.

But of course it's not all new and improved. There's a small tear in the hood which will be expensive and difficult to fix. There are redesigned storage compartments in the centre console that pop open if I nudge them with my elbow when I change gears, or even if I just accelerate sharply. There are a couple of little dents in the boot lid where someone has slammed it shut before establishing that that items within were going to fit.

Beyond all that, however, there's a subtler issue. The new MX5 feels more refined than the old one. Even under strong acceleration, the engine's note is smooth and gentle. Throw it around a roundabout and the new tyres grip almost silently rather than squealing and slipping. While it will still obediently dart around corners and nip through traffic, it no longer feels as though it's anxious to do so. It's doing it because I want it to, rather than because it's been given permission.

But that's a minor consideration. It's pertinent to note the following two facts:

1. It's already been dubbed 'Ice Weasel', because the word is insinuated by the numberplate, and because it's a pale silver colour, and because I have friends who know far too much about freeware web browsers.

2. Time between me taking delivery and me being pulled over by the police for driving like a hoon = five hours.


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