My obsession with this car began many years ago. Drooling over it in the Mazda showroom as a kid, after convincing my farther to stop and let me look. However, with its lofty price tag, I was unsure if I’d ever get the chance to own one. In the years that followed, I watched this car dominate the Bathurst 12hr races. Winning 3 years straight, on what is arguably one of the most demanding race tracks in the world. Again, winning the following year, when the race was moved to eastern creek for a number of reasons. The only car, and manufacturer to have done so. This only served to cement my lust for this car.
Jump 20 years into the future, I finally got my chance to own one. And jump I did! Now, they say sometimes you shouldn’t meet your hero, as they may disappoint. None the less, I handed over my hard earned, faster than a sycophantic school boy, frothing over the latest pinup. Having grown somewhat over the years, the cabin was considerably smaller than I remember. As I folded myself into the hot seat, with origami like precision, I was ready to finally meet the hero, I had so longed for. As I sat, brimming with anticipation, I took in the quite clever ergonomics of the wrapping interior. No wasted space. I turned the key, and the wonderful array of gauges sprung to life. This is it, the moment, as the Rotary engine fires to life, with a gruff shrill that commands your attention. Taking a moment to warm to each other, I tentatively engage the firm clutch, and select a gear with a very nice feel to the gate. Away we go. There is a sense of urgency underlying it’s somewhat deceiving playfulness. The acceleration is smooth, effortless and surprisingly tractable for 1.3L turbo. The unique twin sequential turbo system has allowed for a quite broad torque spectrum. The steering is surgically sharp, instantly responding to any input. The brakes are progressive, and reassuring. As I cruise through the city, heads are turning like the ‘clown game’ at the carnival, I push on with one destination in mind (the mountains). Ever present, I can’t help but be intrigued by the noise; I roll the window down, with a switch that seems as responsive as the cars handling. The unusual, sharp throaty bark echoing off the city walls. No radio required in this car, which is a good thing, as that seems somewhat sub-par in comparison to the rest of the car. This car was clearly designed with one purpose in mind, the driving experience.
As I begin my climb up into the mountain roads, I begin to see the elegance of this cars purposeful ethos. Finally getting to explore the cars elastic, and plentiful power. The handling comes alive, engaging you at every moment. This is certainly not a car for the ham fisted. Eyes wide open, like an eagle on the hunt, spying apexes with a killer like instinct. I find myself being lured deeper, and deeper into each corner. The chassis is truly a work of art, so balanced, so poised, reassuring, and rewarding you with every well placed input. The cars sits so flat, that the horizon, and dash are in constant parallel. The little devil on my shoulder had won, and I am deeply engrossed in this cars simply breath taking performance, rocketing from apex to apex. The uniquely intoxicating sound reverberating throughout the mountains, only serves to push harder. I’m no longer aware of myself, like I have become one with the machine, in a symbiotic relationship, as the scenery begins to blur. Before I knew it, I had reached the end, hours have passed, an entire 80L tank of fuel spent, and an unshakable grin. Needless to say, I was not disappointed in meeting my hero. And, can see exactly why this car is world renowned for its handling. Leaving no surprise as to its successful racing pedigree.
Years on, I still get excited every time I start the car; sitting, and staring at it whenever I get the chance. The sign of a car worthy of a life-long relationship. Everyone that has ever gone for a proper ride, either turns ghost white, or squeals like a kid on a roller coaster. But, all leave invigorated, wanting more. This little fire breathing dragon will certainly remain with me, on this life-long love affair.