Mazda MX-5 on top of

the world

Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, at Nordkapp
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, Northern lights
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, action, forest
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, action
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, rear, road
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, road
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, forest
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, rear, forest
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, static
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, snow, action
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, rear, static
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, side, sun
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, instrument panel
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, interior
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, rear, sun
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, front, snow
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, rear, Nordkapp
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, convoy
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, snow tyre
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, sat nav
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, Nordkapp sign
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, Nordkapp
Mazda MX-5, Arctic drive 2019, boot

DRIVING a roadster across the Arctic is not something that happens every day, but when it's the 30th anniversary of the Mazda MX-5 it has to be different.

After all, this is the world's top selling two-seat convertible and one that has become an icon among sports cars.

Since the first model arrived back in 1989 the MX-5 has been through four generations with the last being updated only last year.

To mark its latest milestone we have just driven a top range MX-5 Sport Nav+ to the most northerly point on mainland Europe.

All that was between us and the North Pole was the Barents Sea and the polar ice cap.

The starting point for our epic drive was Lulea on the east coast of Sweden then it was almost due north for 500 miles across the icy wastes of Finland and into Norway.

Our destination was Nordkapp - the North Cape and at 71 degrees latitude just 1,500 miles from the pole and further north than Dead Horse in Alaska.

The only concession to the gruelling conditions, where temperatures dipped below -20C and the weather changed from sunshine to white-out blizzards in minutes, were studded snow tyres fitted to help the MX-5 cope.

Slip it did but slide never - and that was on some treacherous, ice covered roads as we travelled north.

The 2.0-litre engine used in the latest MX-5 now develops 184ps - up from 160ps - and redlines at 7,500 revs making it much more user friendly.

Top speed is 137mph with 0 to 60 acceleration of less than 6.8 seconds and despite the harsh climate we managed to complete our drive to the Cape in less than 11 hours, averaging more than 40mph and seeing an impressive 43 to the gallon returned on the trip computer.

That's better than the official figures which rate the MX-5 at 40.9mpg on the new WLTP system with emissions of 156g/km and with a 10 gallon tank we had to refuel only once.

Rear-wheel-drive and with a six-speed manual gearbox the MX-5 is a proper driver's car and tipping the scales at just over a tonne it is supremely agile - even on Arctic roads.

The snow tyres made all the difference and offered a surprising amount of grip as conditions worsened.

Roof up - or down - the cockpit remained remarkably inhabitable and with the climate control switched to deliver maximum temperature it was possible to amaze - or astound - the locals at the sight of an open top car exposed to the elements.

At £24,225 the MX-5 Sport Nav+ is in a league of its own - especially with the decision by Fiat to pull its 124 Spider sister ship from sale in the UK - and the Mazda range is priced from £18,995.

Options, which were Mazda's classy Soul Red metallic paint finish and a safety pack that added blind spot monitoring, a reversing camera, adaptive LED headlights and rear cross traffic alert to the car's safety systems increased that by £1,590.

Boot capacity of 127 litres makes for careful packing for such an expedition but it's possible to fit in two good sized bags with room left over while interior storage includes bottle holders and cubbies in the centre console and rear bulkhead.

For our purposes that was plentiful as were the rewards from the drive which included stunning scenery and a fantastic display of the Northern Lights.

At the Cape itself it's bleak. Wind speeds regularly top 40mph and the globe which marks the most northerly point sits atop 1,000 foot cliffs dropping near vertically to the wild sea.

It is a daunting place approached through almost 10 miles of snow field where skidoos are the norm - not rear-wheel-drive sports cars.

But when it's a red letter day for the MX-5 the earth appears to have no bounds.

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