Mazda MX-5 stays

fresh as ever

Mazda MX-5, front action 2
Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav, interior
Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav, head restraints
Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav, boot
Mazda MX-5, static trees
Mazda MX-5 2015, rear

THE European football did much to remind us of how times have changed. I can't ever remember a referee doing a pitch inspection for moths let alone stadium lights being left on all night during the three day week.

Neither was there the luxury of socks which seem to stay up unaided throughout the match. We had to punch one of the subs every two weeks and pack him off to casualty to steal some bandage for tie-ups.

Then there were the cars. As young blades a group of us had MGs, Midgets and MGBs, both Roadsters and GTs, in colours that only a fevered mind could devise.

I had a Midget in a shade of yellow a dog may have coughed up.days of joy. Steering wheels the size of bin lids and handling which did much to bring Imodium to the market. As a result some of the lads will never feel the wind in their hair again. They no longer have any.

Slowly we withered, having done silly things like get married. My first honeymoon was in Belgium. I will always forget it.

British Leyland, custodians of the Morris Garages badge, decided the future lay in the automotive equivalent of sheltered accommodation.

Sure there was the MG Metro but that was rather like doing doughnuts in Mrs Old's shopping trolley.

This left a gap in the market you could drive an Austin Princess through and look who came to fill it: Mazda.

The original 1989 MX-5 brought with it tears of joy. Look at this; a bog-standard driver-orientated two-seater with a soft top that had you panicking if it started to rain. It was lightweight and above all affordable.

Much remains the same. The latest MX two-litre, for instance, is still less than £24,000 for the top-spec 158bhp Sport Nav. You can add a safety pack and still be there or thereabouts.

And much has changed. The latest MX-5 is soft top style personified. And kitted out in a way which would have put the MG accountants in hospital.

The Nav obviously comes with navigation but there are also leather seats with three-setting heaters.

Automatic wipers and lights are standard, as are rear parking sensors and adaptive headlights. Inside there is a Bose sound system with headrest speakers all logically laid out. Oh, and keyless entry.

The downside is interior dimensions. Better than the last model they may be but his is no country for old men. A twenty-stone son of the soil and myself did much to lighten the mood in a funeral car park when he asked if the roof could be dropped so it would be easier on the knees getting in. It was like a lost scene from the Blues Brothers.

That roof, by the way, is still delightfully manual and quick and simple to use. And it does not fold away into the boot. Which is handy as space is already limited there.

So what is the drive like?

Well, those two-litres powering such a light car catapult the Sport to 62mph in 7.3 seconds via an outstanding six-speed manual gearbox. Yes, obviously, there are hot hatches which beat that but not with the sensation of sitting on the floor.

Sport suspension with Bilstein dampers helps with the agile handling and because there is traction control and a limited-slip differential you don't have to suffer the butterflies of old.

Just over 40mpg as an average is claimed and tax is middling at £185. But hey, you're worth it.

Which really puts the MX in its box. It is no powerhouse but rather a stylish option for people who like to look good. It is, in all honesty, too small for the likes of me but a neighbour has one and she has been a model. For garden ornaments.

Above all else it makes me wish I was young again.

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