Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE-L

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

THE Mazda MX-5 has been bringing smiles to faces for the best part of three decades - and the latest model is similarly a little ray of sunshine.

Launched in 1990 it boasted sleek good looks and a superb driving experience and down the years Mazda has focused on keeping those two key ingredients.

To say this recipe has been a success is an understatement - especially when you realise a market once festooned with affordable roadsters is by and large down to one.

And the fourth generation of the MX-5 is a beauty, going back to its roots to ensure a bright future.

Recently voted World Car of the Year at the New York Motor Show, the latest version of the iconic roadster takes its cue from the original.

So expect eye-caressing good looks and the agility of a jet fighter as well as the handy ability of being easy to live with on the daily commute.

The exterior and cabin strike a pose that would grace the front cover of any fashion magazine.

Stylish LED daytime running lights kick things off at the front while silky smooth lines and perfect proportions guarantee it the attention normally reserved for A-list celebrities. The round tail-lights enhance the classic design which features a long bonnet stretching out in front of driver and passenger.

The interior features black cloth covered seats with red stitching as well as body colour co-ordinated upper door trim.

Their are cubby holes for your keys and smartphone, but no glovebox - although two cup holders are provided.

A seven-inch colour touchscreen provides access to the audio and sat nav systems while neat ideas include headrest speakers which are part of a six-strong team ensuring a panoramic sound.

Internet radio, Facebook and Twitter functionality are provided as is Bluetooth which can be accessed from the steering wheel-mounted controls.

Efficient air conditioning ensures a pleasant atmosphere if you miss summer's one sunny day to lower the fabric roof. I was lucky to be blessed with the bright yellow disc in the sky during my time with the roadster so I can report the manual operation to take the top off is simplicity itself.

The roof is stored behind the driver and passenger so doesn't impinge on the admittedly limited boot space that nevertheless manages to just about handle two overnight bags.

Entry and exit from the MX-5 will be no problem for the bright young things destined to buy it, but I must confess that I found myself falling into a low-slung seat, while getting out with a modicum of dignity was only mastered towards the end of my week with the car.

The world's best-selling two-seat roadster is powered by either 1.5 or 2.0-litre petrol engines linked to a super-slick six-speed manual gearbox and a clutch that's anything but a chore in traffic.

The 1.5-litre unit under the bonnet of the motor I drove is a rev-loving beast that makes a glorious sound - especially during the 8.3 seconds it takes to get from 0-62mph.

The response is helped by the MX-5's new slimline image as it is, unusually for a new car, smaller than the one preceding it. Shedding more than 100kg makes it even more potent on the road while also helping it achieve decent fuel economy figures.

It is a dream to drive with a new chassis and supple suspension aided and abetted by point and shoot steering providing thrills while letting you know when spills are imminent.

FAST FACTS

Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE-L Nav

Price:£20,195

Mechanical:131ps, 1,496cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:127mph

0-62mph:8.3 seconds

Combined MPG:47.1

Insurance Group:26

C02 emissions:139g/km

Bik rating:24%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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