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Edition # 10
Review - flying car: Mazda MX5ly
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Mazda flying car
flying car imageMazda MX5ly

The future is here. Or so says Mazda with the remarkable flying MX5ly. Claimed to be the first true flying car, the MX5ly has undergone extensive tests in Japan and is set to wow European motor shows (and airports) early in 2006.

Wreckered road test
Since the dawn of time, when Man first gazed in wonder towards the stars, he has dreamed of a flying car. Well, that dream became reality for me when I took the car for a spin around the mountains of Kyushu in the company of Mazda engineer Shoji Nakata. I was even allowed to take the controls for the short flight back to Mazda's top secret testing facility. (And yes - there is a wing mirror on the wings).


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.



Overall rating: empty space gif

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