By Patrick James on 2016-05-01 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Mazda MX-5 160ps
THERE must be a reason for the Mazda MX-5 being the best-selling two seater roadster in the world.
The sports car in its latest is guise is simply stunning, but then again, so was the one before and the one before that.
My son has just bought a 1999 model and its just as desirable now as it was then and as it was back in 1990 when it was first launched.
Since it first appeared the barb of 'hairdresser's car' has been hurled at it, but it oozes character and charisma. Not only that is hugely enjoyable to drive, with feisty engine, superb handling and limpet-like grip - in the dry. Maybe more of us should be hairdressers.
The new model has a sharper more angular look than the rounded profile of predecessors, with new-style headlights and 17-inch alloys.
The less is more approach has served Mazda well with this car and the latest model is no exception.
The instrumentation is simple, well placed and easy to use, with the central screen controlling sat nav and communication systems, while the manual fabric roof folds away into its container in front of the boot in just seconds.
The great thing too is the price, the car starts at £18,495 which is what you would pay for a mid-range small family saloon
It is lighter and shorter than its predecessor, it still retains a decent boot, not wide, but deep enough for a couple a small suitcases or a modest amount of shopping.
For extra storage there are other little cubby holes around the cabin.
It feels noticeably more snug that previous models, but not to the point of discomfort. Two people slide comfortably into the well shaped seats and still have decent legroom.
Equipment is generous, finished in leather with contrasting red stitching, three-stage seat heaters auto-dimming rear view mirror.
There is also a premium Bose sound system with nine speakers, smart keyless entry, lane departure warning system and rear parking sensors.
The cabin is a pleasant place to be and with the sun out, it's motoring at its finest.
On the road the car is riotous fun. The suspension is firm on this two litre model, bordering on harsh, but what it delivers in handling and driver feedback is worth it.
It sees off fast bends with barely a twitch thanks to the stiffer Sport suspension featuring Bilstein dampers and the ultra-responsive steering means the driver always feels in control. Turn of the stability and traction if you feel brave enough for a more thrilling experience.
It might not be the fastest out there but it is certainly one of the most engaging.
The 160ps two-litre petrol engine propels the car to 60mph in just 7.3 seconds, not the quickest in the world, but the sweet sound of the engine makes it feel quicker. The six speed box is slick, if not as slick as the original, to add to the fun.
Economy, even when being pushed is still pretty impressive thanks to the SKYACTIV-G fuel saving technology. The claimed 40-odd mpg did not seem a million miles off when the car was driven sensibly, while carbon emissions are 161g/km.
Mazda MX-5 160ps Sport Nav
Mechanical: 160ps, 1,98cc 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels vial 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 133mph
0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 40.9
Insurance Group: 29
C02 emissions: 161g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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