Wheely comfortable

in Mazda's MX-5

Mazda MX-5 RF, front
Mazda MX-5 RF, front, action
Mazda MX-5 RF, side, action
Mazda MX-5 RF, rear, action
Mazda MX-5 RF, interior
Mazda MX-5 RF, roof retraction, open
Mazda MX-5 RF, roof retraction 2
Mazda MX-5 RF, roof retraction 3
Mazda MX-5 RF, roof retraction 4
Mazda MX-5 RF, roof retraction, closed

YOU know how it is. You get behind the wheel of a two-seater sports car, lower the roof but then can‘t quite get the perfect position for enthusiastic seat-of-the pants, flies in the teeth motoring.

Well Mazda obviously understands, because the latest Mazda MX-5 now comes - for the first time in its 29-year history - with a steering wheel which adjusts for both height and reach.

In previous generations of the car you could only move the steering wheel up or down but not in and out, which was probably fine if you are of average build - whatever that is - but not if you don‘t conform.

Now all is well, however, because not only is there more steering wheel adjustment but also improved seat sliding operation.

It's all part of the "car and driver as one" ethos that sits at the heart of the MX-5 experience and is probably more important in a small sports car whose cockpit wraps itself around you than in any other type of car.

There have been other changes to the 2019 model year cars too, although as you would expect on a car which was named World Car Design of the Year on its debut and has such a huge worldwide following the styling has been left alone.

The MX-5 RF Sport Nav model I tried, for example, now has a more powerful and higher revving 2.0-litre engine, pushing the bhp up from 160 to 184 and reducing the 0-62 miles per hour acceleration time by 0.5 of a second to 6.8 seconds.

It means the latest car is not only quicker but has more pulling power across the rev range and now hits the red line on the rev counter at a hefty 7,500, up from 6,800.

Once you get behind the wheel of the MX-5 it's easy to see why it's a car which has stood the test of time, while constantly evolving.

It's a convertible which seems to fit like a glove yet still has a spacious feel to the cabin.

On the road the rear-wheel-drive two-seater proved a thrill a minute, with exceptionally lively acceleration and tenacious grip on bends.

In true sports car style the largest dial in front of the driver is the rev counter while the smaller speedometer sits to its right.

The super slick six-speed manual gearbox - an automatic box is available as a £1,200 option - is positive and makes rapid changing quick and easy and the steering is pin sharp.

Official fuel economy for the manual is now 40.9mpg with emissions rated at 161g/km.

The RF is the hard top version of the MX-5 and at £26,595 the Sport Nav version is at the top end of the model price range, which starts from £18,995.

The powered roof folds down in seconds at the touch of a button and is stowed completely out of sight just leaving the rear window section still in place.

So with the side windows up you have all round protection against the elements - inspiring you to drive the car even when the sun isn't shining.

In fact I found the RF one of the best in the business if you want open top motoring but don't want to look like Ken Dodd at the end of your journey.

The new model now comes with features which include a reversing camera, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert and adaptive LED headlamps.

The new package looks set to ensure that the MX-5, which has already notched up sales of more than one million worldwide, 100,000 of which have been in Britain, is certain to be around for a long time yet.

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