What is it?
Daunting, which is quite unlike any other MX-5. Built by Jota Sport to compete in the Britcar series, this MX-5 has been stripped of all its niceties, had a serious diet and its 2.0-litre engine has undergone a power increase to 271bhp. Numbers on the door, a roll cage and some slick tyres complete the transformation, turning Mazda's MX-5 from a friendly road car into something far more formidable.
Is it any good?
The MX-5 is a demonstration in brilliant simplicity and that's also evident with the race car. There's no huge aerodynamic package to push it to the road - that, says its usual driver Owen Mildenhall, is still to come - so aside from the bright livery, hunkered stance and thick-tubed roll cage, it's all familiar MX-5. That is until you get inside, where it all feels a bit more serious. Getting in is tricky with that cage in place but the seat and its multi-point belts hold you in like a limpet. The standard dashboard has been replaced by a lightweight carbon fibre one and the instrumentation is taken care of by a single digital display.
You might think that bringing an MX-5 to the highly competitive Britcar series with its exotic badged machines and designed for purpose racers is futile, but the Jota Sport's car has proved to be something of a giant killer. Thank its sub 900kg kerbweight, diminutive size and its handling - it's able to carry more speed into and through corners than most of its rivals. Mass is speed's enemy which is why it'll not be achieving its claimed 3.00 second 0-62mph in our hands.
Squeezing my non-racing snake frame into the MX-5 undoes all the good work of Jota Sport's engineers. We've got the car for four laps around the twisting tarmac of North Wale's Anglesey circuit. The engine fires with a ferocity that's quite unlike any other MX-5, the entire car fizzing with its intensity. Slick tyres and huge brakes take a while to get used to, as does the speed of the paddle-shifted gearbox. There's no slack, no concessions to comfort, just a car that's been honed to go as fast as it can with huge grip, incredible braking and mighty performance.
It takes a few corners to re-calibrate senses numbed by driving road cars, the immediacy of the steering, the way the brakes haul off speed so effectively and the rapid, seemingly endless acceleration is very unlike the road car. There's shared DNA though, it's still a friendly predictable car - even if over enthusiasm on the first lap saw us take a spin - that feels compact, light and enjoyable. A couple more laps and the daunting feel at start up is gone, the MX-5 being brilliant fun to drive around the Anglesey circuit.
Should I call the bank manager?
Absolutely, and they'll tell you to stop being silly. Racing isn't cheap at any level and once you're into the realm of building bespoke fuel tanks and looking at aerodynamic enhancements then, unless you're a EuroMillions jackpot winner - or have a friendly sponsor who is, forget it. Nobody has said so but this MX-5 will be the most expensive in the world - by some margin.
A brilliant demonstration that the core ethos of the MX-5's light and simple philosophy still has enormous relevance on the track. Jota Sport's MX-5 has proven to be a real giant killer. With more development, there's promise of even greater performance from the small roadster - but this version was fast enough for us thanks. In more talented hands, it's not difficult to imagine Jota Sport taking wins soon.