Mazda MX-5 a

glorious sportscar

Mazda MX-5, front action 2
Mazda MX-5, static trees
Mazda MX-5 2015, front
Mazda MX-5 2015, front, static
Mazda MX-5 2015, side
Mazda MX-5 2015, rear, hood up
Mazda MX-5 2015, cockpit
Mazda MX-5 2015, boot
Mazda MX-5 2015, rear

THE latest MX-5 was a car that Mazda could not afford to get wrong.

The succession of models to bear the name has been a huge success all over the world making it the best selling sportscar of all time, so this one has much to live up to - and boy does it come up trumps.

Driving the best of cars is like the first day of the holidays. Driving this one is like winning the rollover jackpot on the lottery, and if I win this week I'm going out to buy one.

It's every bit as good to drive as the previous models, but perhaps with a little more pzazz thanks to a new, smooth and free revving 1.5-litre engine boasting 130bhp - and not a turbo in sight.

This was the engine the new car was initially designed for but the 2.0-litre petrol from the old car was updated and added because it was thought to be needed for the American market.

I've driven them both and I prefer the 1.5, which suits the car's ethos perfectly and is only marginally slower.

It is a gem of an engine, spinning sweetly all the way to a heady 7,500 revs, with a main power band between 3.5 and 7.5.

If you keep it between those two markers and aided by Mazda's strict code of lighter weight in every possible part of its cars, there's not too much bulk to be pushed around and the performance is absolutely brilliant.

There's always enough power for safe overtaking, and with over 65 miles an hour possible in second gear, I did a lot of that.

The ride in the 1.5 is better than that in the 2.0-litre, if still a little knobbly over some surfaces, but the handling and road holding are sublime.

The level of grip is astonishing and the balance brilliant, with just about the best and most informative power steering on the market adding to the heady mix.

As part of the lightweight ethos, the completely watertight hood is put up and down manually, but goes easily down and up again from the driver's seat in the time it takes for an electric roof just to go down.

There's no height adjustment for the seats because there's no headroom with the hood up. But the driving position is still excellent, with more foot space around the pedals than in the old model.

The boot is pretty small and it is a pure two seater, with little storage space in the cabin.

There are roll over bars behind the seats and standard kit in the SE I drove includes 16-inch alloys, LED headlights, electric windows, leather covered steering wheel, heated door mirrors, aircon, front and side airbags and an excellent stereo with Bluetooth and USB.

FAST FACTS

Price: £18,500

Mechanical: 130bhp, 1,496cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 8.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 47

Insurance Group: 25

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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