It Turns Out That The Mazda MX-5 Is An Excellent Winter Car

Join us on an exhilarating journey through Canadian winter with the 2024 Mazda MX-5 GS-P. While this convertible might defy convention, we took it for a spin in the icy embrace of Old Man Winter. Learn why the MX-5's pharmaceutical-grade driving nirvana transcends seasons, making it a must-have for enthusiasts. Buckle up for a unique blend of thrill and chill that only Mazda's perennial funster can deliver.

HOME NEWS  It Turns Out That The Mazda MX-5 Is An Excellent Winter Car

Adam Allen Writer -

Words by: Adam Allen

Need a car to slay the dragon that is winter in Canada? Look no further than Mazda’s perennial funster.

Perhaps you’re thinking that we’re suffering the effects of too much eggnog over the holiday break, clouding our pin sharp judgment when evaluating whatever wares happen to be in the Carpages Garage at the moment. You should know that we say the following with a bracingly clear mind: driving an MX-5 in the winter is an incredibly fun experience. We figured that if we were going to take such a controversial stance, we’d better put our money where our mouth is. We then did something we had not done in maybe ever: we reached out to Mazda and asked if we could flog one during the dog days of a Canadian winter. We thought the request would be met with a healthy dose of skepticism followed by moderate urging to drive say, a CX-5 or some other AWD equipped SUV. But Mazda being Mazda, they told us that there was indeed an MX-5 on their fleet and it would be shod with excellent winter rated rubber. The MX-5 in question would be wearing GS- P trim with the soft top convertible roof, meaning we’d be privy to all the best performance bits available but with maybe not the best roof option considering the hard top RF was available too. But we like our MX-5 specc’ed a certain way, and so the GS-P it would be.

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Before we continue, we need to get real for a moment. If the forecast is calling for a winter storm that promises to dump a lot of snow on the ground, the MX-5 you are driving is not the best choice to navigate such a fraught commute. It is low and doesn’t weigh much, so deep drifts that pose no threat to your neighbor’s Mazda3 will flummox the MX-5. On cold mornings, the chassis emits some arthritic groaning and feels a bit fragile until everything comes up to temperature. The piercing glow of snowplow auxiliary lighting and most SUVs equipped with LED headlighting will cause temporary blindness since the bright lights are aimed directly into your sightlines. And don’t get us started on the dude in the next lane over who threatens to come dangerously close to your door handles as he tries to maintain control amidst a bootfull of throttle coupled with a concerning lack of winter tires. Also, you’ll need to doff your George Kostanza-esque puffer jacket off when you set off on any drive so you can get the range of motion needed to do so. Lastly, you had better come packing the smallest sized ice scraper you can find because there’s not much space to put anything, anywhere.

But once you accept these compromises, magic ensues.

First, you need to remember why this car even exists; its sole purpose is to reward whoever is behind the wheel and deliver the kind of pharmaceutical grade hit of driving nirvana that we enthusiasts constantly jones for. After this week, we learned that this joy is not the sole domain of the warmer months in just a few minutes of driving around on roads that had a fresh dusting of snow.

When most drivers set off in conditions like these, they spend a few minutes making sure that all traction aids and driver assistance technologies are armed and on full alert. We did the opposite, turning everything off. Novices will want to think twice about performing such a routine as once you do that, you’re on your own. Ask the motorist stranded in a ditch at the side of the road if they would have preferred a little more control and we’d wager the answer would be yes- so proceed with caution.

Those with the appropriate skill level and who have an almost perverse infatuation with lurid oversteer will swoon over the MX-5 when Jack Forst is at his most temperamental. When the roads become even slightly slicked with snow, super low speeds become an absolute hoot. You can drive this thing using the throttle pedal alone and use the finely calibrated helm to bring things back in order with a well-timed flick of the wrists. It’s possible to gain access to similar sensations in the summertime, but you will need to be going much faster and ask the MX-5 to get way bent out of shape. It is on this virtue alone why we would not hesitate even for a moment to reach for its keys when Old Man winter decides to wake up petulant and angry. Heck, we even put the top down here and there, blasting the heat and cranking the heated seats to full bore, as you’ll note in the photo gallery down below.  

No matter what the reading on the mercury, the same stuff that drew ire in the warmer months drew flak in the frigid grip of a Canadian winter. There’s no where to put anything, the trunk feels almost full even with your truncated snow brush at the ready and the infotainment still comes off as half baked and well past its prime. Oh, and you might want to accept that a relaxing commute home will not include hushed sound levels inside the cabin, because a cacophonous soundtrack is cued up in lieu of the  hushed environment you might have been hoping for- the RF model will take the edge off the noise if you are opposed to cranking the sound system to nearly full volume.

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None of those gripes serve as a deterrent in lighting the fire of urgency under your keister to get your order sorte out and placed, like, now for one of the very best sports cars on sale today. Need we remind you that this is among a very scarce cohort of true analogue sports cars as we know them? There’s the Toyobaru twins BRZ/GR86 and ever since the Chevy Camaro headed to a fruitful retirement in Fort Lauderdale (leaving the new Mustang as the last true Pony car left in existence) and the Chally/Charger duo going all in on electric you are not exactly spoiled for choice- and who knows how long these cars we lust after have left as they are in their current form? Answer: Not long.

But until that fateful day comes, why not tune out the automotive blues and revel in all the greatness that is the Mazda MX-5? There’s no Sport Mode to select, no suspension settings to ponder over, nor is there variable settings for the traction and stability control systems. All there is is a car that was designed perfectly from the engineers who worked tirelessly to make sure that the reason people flock to the MX-5 is still very much intact- fun. You gotta love that- but we’re here to tell you that the love fest need not wait until warmer temps; it’s at your fingertips 365 days a year.

2023 Mazda MX-5 GS-P - Specifications

  • Price as tested: $44,645
  • Body Type: 2-door, 2 passenger roadster
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/rear wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.0-litre inline four, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 181 @ 7,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 151 @ 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Curb weight: 1,066 kg (2,350 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km (31 mpg)
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