Mazda MX-5 RF
A stint off the road upsets the RF’S delicate electronic sensibilities
WE’VE ALL PERHAPS BECOME A BIT complacent about the reliability of new cars. I’m old enough to remember walking to school every time my mum’s old Citroën Visa failed to proceed in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and neighbours’ cars had similar problems, yet I’m also young enough that it’s never been a real concern with any of the cars I’ve owned myself.
The only thing that’s hobbled me on occasion is letting a battery run down. In the past this was through inattentiveness – it’s amazing how easy it is to leave your lights on if the dashboard lighting is dim and there’s no buzzer to warn you. More recently, long periods of inactivity for my Eunos, thanks largely to driving long-termers such as the MX-5 RF instead, have meant I’ve twisted the key to the sound of silence on more than one occasion, so I now keep a battery tender in the boot ready for such occasions.
Still, it came as a bit of a surprise when recently I walked up to the RF, pushed the keyless entry button and found no reaction whatsoever. The Mazda’s fob contains an actual, physical key, which opened the door – with a little more effort than usual, since the auto-dropping window didn’t auto-drop – but predictably, there wasn’t a peep upon pressing the starter button.
Thankfully, Matthew Hayward from evo’s sister title Octane came to the rescue with one of those tiny but mighty jump packs and the RF quickly fired back into life. It wasn’t particularly happy about it, though, throwing up all manner of warning lights for the first few minutes and, more worryingly, intermittently losing power assistance to the steering and illuminating an ABS light on an exploratory drive around the car park.
Both fixed themselves quickly, but clearly even some modern cars aren’t predisposed to sitting still for long periods, particularly during a cold snap like the one the RF had endured. I felt rather guilty, as a succession of test cars had diverted my attention from the otherwise likeable RF, and without really noticing it, it had languished in the car park for around a month, with only the occasional run out in the hands of colleagues.
I’ve made up for that indiscretion by taking it on a few longer runs since, and it’s now returned to its old, faultless self. Well, apart from the handbrake light glowing at random intervals and an irritating squeak emanating from the retractable roof. The RF will have been for its first annual service by the time you read this, so I’ll see if the dealership can find answers to either issue.
Dateacquired February 2017 Totalmileage 12,474 Mileagethismonth 774 Coststhismonth £0 mpgthismonth 45.7