ANALOGUE FEEL

LETTER OF THE MONTH

Brad Johnson, via email

IíM A grumpy bugger when it comes to the ruination of the automobile. I work for a Sydney Mazda dealer. I have worked here for almost two decades and genuinely love the product. I am onto my third MX-5, including an ND GT and my track-ready NA6. We also own a 2004 Mazda 2 and a current CX-5.

However, is it my imagination or are modern cars becoming less driver-friendly?

My wife loves driving manual but the CX-5 doesnít offer one in anything but the bottom grade. Why does a manufacturer feel they can tell the customer (who is spending their hard earned) that they cannot have a manual gearbox if they want one?

What is wrong with a handbrake lever?

We now have an electronic one in its place and dear god help me if (or when) it finds its way into the MX-5. Why do we not get temperature gauges any more? I know modern cars are not plagued with overheating issues, but surely a gauge wouldnít break the budget.

On the subject of gimmicks, what the hell is with the starter button trend? Please make it go away, it is a pain in the proverbial for us mechanics. What a stupid thing it is. And when did a steering wheel become the command centre for the starship enterprise?

Donít get me wrong, in all Mazdas bar the BT-50 the steering wheels are lovely. They look good and feel good to hold but why are there so many buttons on the damn thing?

Once upon a time if you purchased a car and didnít like the wheel it came with, you could take it off and buy a nice new Momo or Sparco wheel. You would improve the look and feel of your interior. Not now.

By the way, I just got through re-reading the June 1982 Modern Motor, the one with the VH and XE ESP on the cover; you know, back in the day when cars were simple and fun, when you could have a choice of gearbox, where if you didnít like the seat they gave you, you could change it, where if you didnít like your steering wheel, you could change it, if you wanted a better stereo, you guessed it, you could change it. And, if you had half a clue, you could even service it yourself. Modern technology Ė have we really advanced? Love the magazine guys, keep it up.

Sadly, Brad, itís a question of demand, and while your arguments are valid, youíre definitely in the minority!