On the road
The cut-down Cessna engine powers the 5ly from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds
and when in terrestrial mode the car behaves like a rascal RX-8.
Perfect weight distribution keeps you composed over
bumps and smooth round corners and that high pitched engine wail
lets the world know you are coming. But what is it like in the air
Well, I hit the Airoflight button and was pleased
to see the fold away wings swing smoothly out - subsidiary rotors
at each wingtip telescope vertically and fold out to provide rotary
wing stability at low speeds and hovers.
We swoooped happily over tree tops for a while
before climbing to a dizzying 2,000 ft and then diving like a Stuka
to buzz an ice cream van. The MX5ly handles well in the air, with
none of the bump and rattle you associate with most two seater planes.
In hover mode, the car performs admirably and even I was able to
hold her in a steady hover for four minutes only 20 feet above some
slack-jawed drug addicts in a park.
In the cabin
The Airoflight function rotates the dashboard like a tombola drum
to reveal the flight desk controls - including onboard radio systems
which link automatically to the nearest air traffic control tower.
The dual dash features aluminium trim with the main instruments
sunk in snazzy deep dials. The cloth seats are comfortable and smart
and the cabin overall echoes the layout of the RX-8, even down to
the digital speedo (if not the altimeter).
Taller drivers will find leg room limited by the black box flight
recorder in the foot well. In keeping with the dual roles of the
car, Mazda engineers have adapted the airbags to function as emergency
parachutes. Shoji demonstrated this by manually releasing the passenger
side airbag and, with a cheerful wave, leaping out of the car.
Sad to say, he sustained fearful injuries on the way down when
he was hit by another MX5ly flying along 100 feet below us.
Until Mazda fit a decent radar system to this car I'm afraid my
jury remains out.