ONE of the first cars I owned back in the 80s was a Triumph Spitfire and oh how I loved that car.
It was a real driving experience every time I got behind the wheel. You felt connected with the car and with the first hint of sunshine, the roof was lowered for fabulous open-top fun.
Admittedly, when it rained you could expect wet feet as there was some sort of osmosis effect through the chassis, but whenever I think back to that bright red Spitfire it still makes me smile.
The reason for my reminiscing is because over the years, the only modern-day car that really comes close to that thrill-packed Triumph experience is Mazda's iconic MX-5.
This classic roadster is the world's best-selling two-seat sports car and it perfectly combines two very important factors.
Firstly, it delivers on every aspect when it comes to sports car thrills. Secondly, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to buy with the latest fourth generation car priced from Â£18,795.
The MX-5 looks beautifully sculpted from any angle with its muscular stance, striking LED headlights and beautifully smooth contours.
This particular model featured 16-inch gunmetal alloys along with piano black door mirrors to complete the look. It's the sort of car that instantly grabs your attention and then holds it.
Move inside and the compact cabin houses two passengers comfortably and there are plenty of techno treats to be explored.
Features include a BOSE sound system with nine speakers, sat nav, air conditioning, three-stage seat heaters, a seven-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio and steering wheel-mounted controls.
The seats, steering wheel and gear stick are all leather trimmed and the car has a very upmarket feel.
It is also smaller and lighter than previous generation versions and that means the new MX-5 can deliver even better driving dynamics.
The roof is opened and closed manually in true roadster fashion (no fancy push buttons on this car) and the boot can actually hold a fair amount of luggage with a capacity of 130 litres.
When it comes to performance, the Mazda MX-5 is guaranteed to be every thrill-seeker's ideal driving machine.
This rear wheel drive car was priced at £23,095 (£23,965 with options) and was powered by a 1.5-litre 131ps petrol engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
It could reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.3 seconds and maxed out at 127mph. According to official figures, the MX-5 can deliver combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg with carbon emissions of 139g/km.
In town centres the car is very agile and its compact dimensions make light work of parking. But with the roof up, the all-round visibility is poor with virtually no over-the-shoulder vision. This does make reversing out of a parking space quite difficult.
But out on the open road, particularly the winding country lanes, it's a completely different experience.
The MX-5 has built a reputation for delivering exciting dynamics and it is a reputation that is justified.
The steering is precise and the car can take bends with confidence thanks to the ultra-grippy road holding. It is quite loud within the car and you will feel lots of bumps and dips along the way, but that adds to the car's appeal and the whole experience of roadster driving.
The switching through the gears is perfectly tuned to keep the momentum going and the acceleration feels blisteringly fast. In fact, when you are travelling at 50mph it feels more like 70mph.
Mazda has kitted out the MX-5 with a range of safety features, including dynamic stability control with traction control, dual front and side airbags and a lane departure warning system.
Mazda MX-5 1.5 Sport Nav
Mechanical: 131ps, 1,496cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels with 6-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.1
Insurance Group: 26
C02 emissions: 139g/km
Bik rating: 26%