Learning to handle wet weather driving when living in a rain forest is kind of important.
The program is designed to cover wet weather driving, and since we live in a rain forest, it rains a lot here. The full-day program covers theory for the first 45 minutes, and then you get hands-on practice driving your own car so that you learn best for every day driving. Some of the exercises and learning experiences are ABS, correct seating position, oversteer, understeer, vision, skid control, and even drifting. So, you’ll be covering all your bases!
@xoconniepetersSo. Much. Fun. Lots of learning too. ##mazda ##mazdaspeed ##mazdamiata ##learning ##shedrivesnow♬ I Wanna Sex You Up (Re-Recorded / Remastered) – Color Me Badd
Related: 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Edition Review: Go Ahead, Put the Top Down and Get Your Hair Messy
The Mazda MX-5 GT (Miata) handled the exercises fantastically.
Besides the driving exercises, I learned that the MX-5 is ideal for handling quick turns, hard braking, and fast accelerations. It’s the perfect circuit car, in other words, making it an extra-fun daily driver as well.
I had the opportunity to drive both the soft-top MX-5 GT and the Targa-style hardtop RF MX-5 recently, and while they both handle equally amazing, making the decision to buy one over the other is mostly based on the preference of aesthetics and looks, and of course, price.
The soft-top MX-5 is a true convertible where the top comes completely down and just the seat back supports are left visible. The top of the line GT trim includes adaptive headlights, heated leather-trimmed seats, and navigation. This Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint color is like no other red I’ve ever seen and is an option for USD $595 / CAD $450. The GT (or Grand Touring in the US) trim MX-5 soft-top as driven would be USD $33,310 or CAD $42,272.
The Targa-style hardtop RF leaves a B-pillar behind the driver and passenger. The RF is CAD $45,272 or USD $35,470 and includes 17″ wheels, adaptive front lights, power side mirrors, Brembo brakes, Piano-black top, and side-view mirrors, and red Nappa leather seating on the Canadian version. In the US, the options are different, and I also couldn’t find this red leather interior on the US website.
So let’s talk about adverse weather driving conditions and what I learned at Island Motorsport Circuit.
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Braking is a hard thing for a car to do!
We were able to watch a pro driver in a car with excellent tires and performance brakes brake to a full stop while driving at different speeds. When a car is going slower, it’s easier for the brakes to perform and bring the car to a stop. When you’re going faster (or perhaps too fast for current conditions), it takes longer for the brakes and tires to come to a full stop. When it’s wet, it takes even longer to come to a full stop.
Practicing hard braking in wet conditions taught me how important it is to really learn how my brakes and tires will hold up when I have to truly slam on the brakes.
Your driving position is important
I learned this while participating in the performance driving level 1 program at Island Motorsport as well.
- Sit close enough to the steering wheel to be able to keep your elbows bent always, even while turning.
- Your feet should be able to touch the floor behind the pedals, fully flat.
- Hold the steering wheel at 9 and 3 — NOT at 10 and 2 as you may have been taught! 9 and 3 allow for better grip and control even while turning the steering wheel.
- You should focus on seeing far into the distance, not directly in front of the hood for better safe driving.
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Oversteer, Understeer and Skid control
Oversteer is when the back tires ‘kick out’ on you when you’re turning. This normally occurs on cars that drive the rear wheels and happens when the car is turning and the driver applies more power than the tires can deal with. This makes the tires slip and tries to push in the opposite direction to the turn, kicking the back end of the car out.
Understeer happens if you’re going rather fast or braking very hard and trying to turn the wheel, the extra momentum causes the front tires to slip in the direction you’re traveling so, instead of turning, the car plows straight on.
Learning about these and practicing on their pylon courses on a wet surface helped to make me a more confident driver.
The Mazda MX-5 handled amazingly throughout all of the exercises throughout the day! I don’t think many people would immediately think of a convertible sports car as the ideal wet weather vehicle, but it was seriously great!
*I was hosted by Island Motorsport Circuit, and the Mazda MX-5 RF and MX-5 GT were both provided by Mazda Canada for review. All opinions are my own.