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Does This Mazda Duo Make for a Great Two-Car Garage?

by Richard Salmons
17 May 2024 5 min read
Does This Mazda Duo Make for a Great Two-Car Garage?

I turn 35 this summer, and lately I’ve been looking to the future trying to predict where my passion for cars might take me. I’ve also been thinking about where my excitement for cars began. I remember a large hardback book called The Fastest Cars in the world. I pored over the details and pictures of the likes of the McLaren F1, the Jaguar XJ220, and a personal favourite in the Lister Storm. I also had a scale-model of an F40 that required repairs on multiple occasions due to the amount of action it saw – the racing imaginary, the damage real. 

I was a lucky kid because we lived not far from Silverstone. This meant I got to experience the thundering engines and intensity of GT racing somewhat regularly. My first car, at age 17, was a Seat Ibiza, and not long ago a Toyota Supra Mk 5 3.0 Pro served as my daily driver. But I have since sold it on and am very invested in what its replacement could be. Which got me thinking about a two-car garage that suits me.

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I am a Valuation Information Analyst here at Hagerty, and I am part of the wider Automotive Intelligence team that puts together the Hagerty Price Guide, provides market analysis, along with countless other self-proclaimed “car nerd” functions. 

Make no mistake, I happily apply that term to myself, such is my interest in numbers, computers, and technology. And the fact that the fast-paced progress of technology is now a huge part of cars means we have some important decisions to make. Can we buy the equivalent of rare vinyl while having the convenience of an iPod but avoiding the potential cassette tape qualities that will inevitably be mixed in.

All of which is to say: Can a great two-car garage combine a classic enthusiast vehicle with a modern electric vehicle? What could those two cars be? As to not ask questions without offering my own solution, allow me to propose the following, using Mazda as my guide…

The EV: Mazda MX-30

1991 Mazda MX-5 and Mazda MX-30

The headline figures of the MX-30 make it look out of kilter with some similarly priced rivals, but don’t let that detract from its many interesting details. 

What stands out about the MX-30 is its cohesive design approach, which flows through the vehicle. As with all Mazdas of late, every detail of the MX-30 was carefully considered and matched to its focus, and the rear doors are a nod to those of the RX8

Inside, most of the materials, like cork, give the cabin a premium feel, though the plastic buttons of the infotainment system feel cheap and less well crafted than so many other details throughout. The best compliment I can pay the seats is that you barely notice them, which is exactly what you want – full of purpose without a hint of discomfort. The infotainment itself is easy to navigate across its two screens, while the head-up display – a criminally underrated bit of tech in modern cars – is so easy to adjust to. 

The MX-30’s 350-litre cargo space is a bit of a mixed bag. The ample boot and spacious front seats might be enough for most, but the compromise is seemingly little rear passenger space. Creating useable rear space means opening the front doors and moving the front seat, something I think few would want to do with any regularity.

Powering the 1700kg MX-30 is a “right size” battery of 35.5kWh that provides a WLTP range of 124 miles combined and 165 city. It doesn’t seem like enough, but it realistically could be for many. Output is rated at 143bhp (107kW), and the car’s 50kW charging means it can go from 20 per cent to 80 per cent charged in 25 minutes. The MX-30 certainly lacks for the sort of snappy acceleration found in so many of today’s EVs, however. It’s a bit disappointing if I’m honest, with 0 to 60mph coming in 9.7 seconds. 

In fact, the driving experience is a mixed bag, with the regenerative braking tough to adjust meaningfully, and the steering, while responsive, is a touch light. That’s forgivable for parking but unnerving on twisty country lanes. But the overall ride from this front-wheel-driver, however, is a relative high point, and it copes well enough with British B roads. This is surely due to the relative light weight for an electric vehicle and its 60/40 weight distribution. 

The Enthusiast Vehicle: Mazda MX-5

1991 Mazda MX-5

There may not be a huge amount of praise that hasn’t already been lavished on the MX-5, but having just driven one for the first time, I finally understand. 

The MX-5 was revealed to the public at the 1989 Chicago auto show, which, coincidentally, is the same year that I was revealed to the public. It was then and remains today a car very much in a class of one.

I was lucky enough to drive one from the Mazda UK heritage fleet, a 1990 NA model with the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated inline-four. As soon as I saw the car sitting there it put a smile on my face, and it didn’t leave until I’d inevitably parked it back up again. The princely sum of 114 bhp is perfect for the car’s svelte weight of under a tonne. Though the word “iconic” is today overused, it does seem an apt descriptor for the first MX-5’s design: Everyone knows what this car is and not an inch of it looks out of place.

1991 Mazda MX-5

The first challenge was working out how to fold all 6 foot, 3 inches of me into the driver’s seat; I am far less svelte. I don’t quite fit, truth be told, especially comfortably, but it’s amazing how the mind can convince us otherwise for something worthwhile.

As soon as I put it into gear and blipped the throttle, I became so focused on the road ahead that the details of the interior simply got lost. The small steering wheel, the short-throw gear selector, and three pedals are your connection to the car, and all you really need to remember. 

The steering feels weightless in a sense, with inputs neither too heavy nor too light, but just right, as the fairytale goes. The gear selection and pedals follow along in the same vein, and the whole experience inspires confidence. 

It sounds ridiculous to say that something felt like it was doing the exact job it was supposed to be, but when your only reference is assisted everything and various computers deciding whether what you have asked for should, in fact, be allowed, such freedom is a revelation. All the inputs and outputs of the machine make you feel more a part of it, not less, and I hadn’t experienced that in another car.

Sure, there are squeaks and rattles, which in isolation could be loud, distracting, or annoying, but when combined with the right exhaust note and efficient rowing of the gears, it all makes for a driving experience you don’t want to end. And the pop-up headlights? I could play with those until they break… 

Mind you, this introduction came on an English weather day where a boat might have been a more appropriate mode of transport than a car, so I never even got to try it with the roof down. As we have since had our share of sunny days, I have rectified the situation. 

Over the last five years, NA MX-5 values have risen a little but behind inflation in that same period. Meaning they remain just as much car for the money – and even a little more in real terms, with prices ranging from £2600 for one in #4 (fair) condition to £10,200 for a #1 (concours) example.

So, it’s an all-Mazda two-car garage. The MX-5 is such an intoxicating drive that you could combine it with literally any other vehicle and be on to a winning pair. However, while the MX-30 has its potential drawbacks for some, it does many things right, in a very Mazda way, so you may just find it does what its designed to do quite well. Just remember that crucial MX-5 pairing – and don’t wait as long as I did to try one.

Which two vehicles you would choose for an affordable, semi-responsible two-car garage? Does an EV even make your list? 

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