Motor (Australia)

IN GOOD COMPANY

Does absence really make the heart grow fonder?

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AS YOU’VE PROBABLY already read, the start of 2022 has been a bit crazy at MOTOR with exotica aplenty. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it. With PCOTY 2022 and a certain McLaren lurking, finding reasons not to drive BNP296 haven’t been too hard to come by. That’s why, when I was asked to grab a car and help out with photograph­y on a shoot for the 720S, I paused for a moment to consider my options.

Still sitting in the car park post PCOTY was a big slice of American muscle. Given the final destinatio­n was the picturesqu­e Lake Mountain

Alpine Resort, I thought it’d be a great opportunit­y to gain some more seat time in the bright orange Mach 1. For those who know, the roads to Lake Mountain in the Yarra ranges outside Melbourne are some of the best in Victoria, so the chance to stretch the iconic pony’s legs seemed like a great idea. And it definitely was.

This is the most focused atmo Mustang we’ve received Down Under and its mix of V8 grunt, slick-shifting six-speed manual and grippy Michelin rubber means it’s now much more than a boulevard cruiser. It’s also hard to ignore the sound – if you’re into an aggro bent eight, soundtrack­s don’t get much better out of the factory. The ’Stang is discernibl­y quick, too, despite the rather tall gearing.

Quick doesn’t really befit the McLaren 720S. It’s the kind of accelerati­on that you feel as it transports you into another dimension before your mind can comprehend the process. Compared to the long bonnet, cab-back stance of the American, the missile from Woking seemingly perches you over the front axle. The carbon-wrapped supercar oozes presence and ultimate theatre in a way few cars can. Certainly not a Soul Red MX-5. Arriving to meet Kirby in ‘his’ Silica White McLaren, the scissor doors are upright and ‘my’ Mazda couldn’t be gaining less of the spotlight if it tried.

The Mach 1, in certain circles, attracts attention, too. And it doesn’t have to be in a loud colour like the Twister Orange example

I’m piloting because both Kirby and snapper Alastair Brook tell me they heard me ascending long before they got a visual. All parked up, it’s the unlikelies­t of unlikely trios, but each has their own strengths.

Right now, the fact the Mazda drops its top helps massively in terms of photograph­y with Alastair, flopping mullet and all, coercing me closer to the Mac to get the shot. This type of motion photograph­y, known as tracking, is nerve-racking – especially when the subject matter has a sticker north of $500k. Yet thankfully, despite this being my first time back in the Mazda in a while, it feels instantly comfortabl­e.

Pictures taken, I cruise back to Melbourne’s CBD, the skyline on the horizon tinged with pink and wispy white clouds. It’s still warm so the roof is down and I row through the gears to keep the 2.0-litre four-pot on song. There’s an authentici­ty and simplicity in the MX-5 experience that often goes missing in more exotic metal, and it’s something that’s hugely endearing. It all sounds overly idyllic I know, but this is the type of situation the MX-5 is made for.

Alex Affat summed it up best walking into the office one day after borrowing the iconic roadster. He professed that every supercar owner should still have an MX-5 in their garage as a reliable, fun and relatively low-risk propositio­n. It’s always going to start, it doesn’t require stacks of fuel stops and you don’t need to treat it like a trailer queen – you just fire it up and go.

I’m glad my reuniting drive proved that point because it’s apparent that seat time in other metal hasn’t dampened my affection for the Mazda. And that’s the pull of a really good car. It doesn’t matter what else is around in the car park, the MX-5 just makes you want to drive it. – TG

ALL PARKED UP, IT’S THE UNLIKELIES­T OF UNLIKELY TRIOS, BUT EACH HAS THEIR OWN STRENGTHS

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 ?? ?? MAZDA MX-5 GT RS 1998cc 4cyl, RWD, 135kW/205Nm, 6-speed manual, 1052kg, $47,320
MAZDA MX-5 GT RS 1998cc 4cyl, RWD, 135kW/205Nm, 6-speed manual, 1052kg, $47,320
 ?? ?? ABOVE While the control wheel works well enough, Mazda isn’t a big proponent of touch screens
ABOVE While the control wheel works well enough, Mazda isn’t a big proponent of touch screens
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