The miles and smiles continue to pile on in the little Mazda, the fizzy MX-5 proving the perfect antidote to the annual post Christmas torpor and despair. Oh sure, automatic and turbocharged cars make things easier, but there's still little that rewards like a revvy, atmospheric engine and a manual gearbox. I was going to award the new Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre my thing of the year for 2018 even before acquiring the long-termer; the weeks leading up to Christmas only did further convincing.
Therefore while I could waffle on about how good the Mazda has been in the real world - intuitive ergonomics, great headlights, surprisingly economical - it seemed a whole lot more appropriate to dedicate this update to what the MX-5 is like when thrashed on circuit.
For that it was given to What Car's latest road test recruit Becky Wells, who took the MX-5 to Bedford Autodrome at the end of last year. Here's what she thought...
You know those big yellow stickers with the black cross? The ones that you put on the back of your car when you go to a racetrack? The ones that show the world what a complete, hopeless track day novice you are? Yep... that's me.
Actually this was the first time I'd ever participated in a proper, just-go-for-it track day, with my own car. Or, well, with the PH Mazda MX-5. No pressure then.
Thankfully there was an expert in the driving seat - much-loved racing star Mark Hales - to help protect me from the Clio and C2 hooligans taking me on. And, perhaps most importantly, help me get the most from the Mazda.
First thing to note is, as you'll know, this Mazda is a completely stock car, the same as you'd drive away from any Mazda dealership. There are no track-special mods to it whatsoever. In fact, I had the heated seats on for most of the day's fun. The average fast car's track suitability (and durability) for circuit work does sometimes go unnoticed nowadays, and really it shouldn't.
It'll also come as no surprise, given the car's evergreen popularity, that it wasn't the only MX-5 out there, although it was the only Mk4 - no doubt that will change in time.
So how did it get on? Thankfully, even for a rookie like me, there was immediately real confidence from the little Mazda thanks to its predictable handling, so it can really be pushed for all it's got from the off. Throwing it into corners, the steering was tight and completely responsive, meaning apexes could be hit every time... well, most of the time if you're me. The tyres help with that, for me offering up sufficient grip and progression to know when the limit is approaching, and a less gung-ho approach was required. It stayed on the tarmac the whole day, put it that way.
And naturally, the 184hp engine and reasonably slender kerbweight meant most things were given a run for their money along the straights.
Even at lunchtime when it started raining torrentially and the track cleared out as lesser men bailed for the warmth of the canteen, the Mazda had no issues taking on the wet tarmac, maintaining its composure easily and remaining a testament to the decent traction and faithful handling that's there in the dry.
Give me a couple more days taking on the romantic roads of the Bedford Autodrome with my trusty Mazda and watch me become the next - well, track day hooligan probably. What a great little car!
Car: 2018 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Skyactiv-G RF GT Sport Nav+
On fleet since: November 2018
Run by: Matt
Mileage: 4,230 (delivered on 1,721)
List price new: £27,795 (as standard; price as tested £28,815 comprised of £350 for Apple CarPlay and £670 for Machine Grey Metallic paint)
Last month at a glance: Track day tearaway
Does more power mean a more fun MX-5?
Photos: Lee Marshall