The British DID think of it! The Mazda MX5 is modeled on the Lotus Elan. The Japanese have never made any secret of this.
We've had the MX-5 (bought new) since 2001. It's been an awesome car. The handling is wonderful on those twisty country roads. The performance, though not earth shattering, is well suited to the vehicle.
One small issue keeps coming up though. There is a fair bit of clutch shudder when taking off from standstill - in 1st or reverse. It's particularly bad when first starting the car in the morning, but it sometimes rears its head later on after it's warmed up. The first clutch was replaced under warranty - we were told that Mazda had engineered a fix. Nope - same issue still comes up. The only way to avoid it is to put a LOT more revs on board when lifting the clutch. It's annoying because people assume you can't drive!
Other than that, awesome vehicle. Highly recommended.
I think the clutch judder is a Mazda thing particularly with the 1.8-litre engine, which I presume your Mazda has. We had a Premacy 1.8 and had 2 clutches replaced under warranty.
The clutch judder is a known issue with the 6 speed 1.8 MX-5's.
The only cure is a replacement clutch.
Either that or an automatic transmission like I have on my '03. Heretical perhaps, but a lot more comfortable in stop-n-go traffic.
An automatic MX5... shudder, I mean why would you?!
Seriously though, I have just bought an 02 model. Smiled all the way through the test drive, can't wait to pick it up. Always wanted a real convertible. Currently have a 300ZX Nissan TT with targa, but it's not the same, and the Nissan does gallons per mile rather than mpg!
As for British cars... I thought they only built prototypes, which other country's then fettled and turned into real cars.
I am getting an inspection carried out on a 2001 MX-5 next week.
If it's all good, I will pick it up on the weekend. I can't wait.
I love the look of the MG & Lotus cars (IMO the Brits design some gorgeous cars, but they tend to be more expensive, of lesser build quality than the Japanese cars, and qualified service centres are too hard to find).
My car is a 2001 with over 175k at this time (no major mechanical issues thus far).
To solve this clutching issue, I put in a stage one clutch. Yes, the pedal is a bit stiffer, but I don't have to worry about the jerking I used to get from the stock clutch. Also, if you're looking for more pep, lighten the fly wheel. I went from stock (20 lbs) down to 12, which gave me much faster acceleration.