MOD's Motors – November 2016
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Last week Mazda New Zealand confirmed they are starting to take orders for the new MX5-RF. RF in this context stands for 'retractable fastback', which sounds dead boring, but won't be. In fact, it looks pretty damn hot.

Originally unveiled at the New York Auto Show eight months ago, the RF looks a bit like the illegitimate son of the F-Type Jag and the Porsche Cayman. In other words, it's stunning.

Many have poo-pooed the MX5 as a hairdresser's car, but they've all been wrong. The car is everything the MGB should have been but never was, and everything that the Lotus Elan was, but a hell of a lot more reliable. I've only owned one – an NA-RS – but I reckon it was one of the purest driving experiences I've had.

Mazda head honcho, Andrew Clearwater, reckons the car inherits the Jinba-ittai feel from the original MX-5 of 1989. Jinba-ittai is a four-character Japanese figure that means rider and horse moving as one, and it's a fitting metaphor for a car that delivers such a pure driving experience.

In anticipation of the first RF hitting Kiwi roads in January, this month's MOD's Motors picks the eyes out of cars that exhibit Jinba-ittai and deliver a very pure driving experience. An experience which resonates with driver-car engagement. Plus we've got all the traditional weirdness from our readers and a competition for those who know their Mazda history. Let's get into it.
RS rocket
Image rocket Purists reckon the original NA cars are the coolest, but I am pretty fond of the 2-litre NC car with the wheel bulges and the 170hp engine. I've even seen a few put in the Targa, where they punch way above their weight. Here's a mint RS car from the mighty Tron.
Find more Mazdas
Lean-not-luscious Lotus
When I was young and crazy I had a Steel Brothers Lotus 7. It cornered like it was on rails and accelerated like the Millennium Falcon on the Kessel Run. 25 years later, Lotus berthed an equally engaging car, the Elise. Here's a Type R-powered series one that does 0–100 in 4 seconds. Crikey!
Check out more Lotuses
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Tommi tickler
Image evo I'm not really a Japper 4x4 turbo kind of person, but the Evo VI was something special. Tommi Mäkinen was meant to have acted as consultant on the design, and the drive shows it. Here's one that's had some serious dosh thrown at it in the mighty 'Naki.
See more Mitsubishis
The 'oh god' experience
All the Porsche 911s have been engaging experiences, but the 996 was the first one that didn't want to bum steer through a corner. Here's the last of the 996s in Turbo guise. As they say in Japan "very sucky motor".
Find more Porsches
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French teaser
Image Peugeot The blimmin' French are no good at making beer, rock music or foreign policy; but they excel at hot hatches. In the 2000s, they made arguably the purest handling of all hatchbacks, the 206GTI. I've spent a bit of time in these cars and so long as you keep your foot down, they simply never let go. Loving this one.
See more Peugeots
Buying the safest car
Buying a car? Whether it's new or used, make sure it has these two important safety features: electronic stability control, and side curtain airbags. Once you've got a shortlist of cars, you can compare their overall safety ratings at
Find out more here
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Five most popular rides on Trade Me
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1    Big tail
2    Screaming sophistication
3    $1 reserve RX-8
4    4x4 long-legged Lambo
5    700BHP V12
Five hottest classics on Trade Me
1    Ultimate '65 Pony car
2    290kw RX2
3    Hydraulic Impala
4    Original 'Lucky' SS Commodore
5    308 Statesman
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Image readers ride
This month's reader's ride comes from Bevan of Timaru. It's a mint 1988 Ford Laser Sport. Not just any Laser Sport, it's a rare-as-rocking-horse-poop 1.6 turbo with full time 4x4. Bevan picked up the car in the UK in the late '90s and loved it. He then put it in his in-law's shed in Devon for 10 years, and exported it out to New Zealand in 2010. He's subsequently done a motor refresh (but to factory specs) and a respray. The factory turbos are largely unknown here, so he reports this one can still give boy racers a bit of a fright. Cheers Bevan – cool car.
Reader's rave
This month's letter comes from Craig of Christchurch.
"Hey MOD. What is your take on electric? My car is getting a bit tired and rattly. It's a 1990 Mazda Infiniti sedan (a 323 with fruit) with 250 klicks. Do I buy a hybrid now, hold out for fully electric, or replace it with another dino-juice burner?"
Hey Craig. What a great question, and one that will be on many people's minds right now. I think that, despite the virtues of micro diesels, directionally electric is the future for mass market cars – forget hybrids. It's just a question of how long it will take to get to a fully-electric future, and how the laws of supply and demand will treat consumers during the transition. There's also the question of what effect my erstwhile-mate, Simon Bridges, has with his cool new EV fund.

Remember you also bear the risk of buying first-generation technology if you're only looking at the electric cheapies right now. If you can stretch to $20k, then I'd buy a Gen 2 Nissan Leaf. If you can't, then I'd grab a Suzuki Swift or Toyota Yaris for around $10k, run it till 2020, and then go electric. Here are a few to whet your electric whistle.
 Gen 2 Leaf
 Gen 2 Type X
 Silver Suzuki roller skate
 Yaris on steroids
 Yaris cheapie
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Offerings from the faithful
Here's the latest colourful garbage sent in by our faithful readers:
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 530hp Kombi (with thanks to Rod)
 When a GTHO is not a GTHO
 Rocking Rod sells his Lambo
 Springsteen – Racing in the Street (new)
 Springsteen – Racing in the Street (old)
 Keanu Reeves and the sissy bar
Thanks to all the people who entered last month's competition as to the key modification done by the driver, Larry, to the big Audi S8. The answer was nitrous oxide injection. 

The competition for this month heads deep into the heart of Mazda's automotive whakapapa. Tell me the engine that Mazda used to win the 1991 Lemans Race. Five people with the correct answer will get a cool prize.

Email your answer to
That's it for this month and for this year. Thanks for reading in 2016 and safe driving over the silly season.
For more from MOD, check out his dodgy column.
MOD's views seldom reflect those of Trade Me.
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