MAZDA is celebrating the 30th birthday of its iconic MX-5 with a very special limited edition model.
The legendary sports car has sold over a million units since it was first launched at the Chicago Motor Show with over 130,000 of them being sold to devoted fans in the UK.
Only 3,000 30th anniversary edition models will be available worldwide and to recognise the popularity of the roadster in the UK, we will be getting 550 of them.
Prices will start at £28,095 for the 370 convertibles on offer while the 180 Retractible Fastback or RF models available will cost £29,895 and will feature a black two-tone roof.
Mazda has not been shy in producing limited edition of the MX-5 in the past and they tend to be snapped-up quickly and this newcomer is surely one of the best.
Finished in what the company calls Racing Orange, the bright colour also features in the interior detailing.
MX-5 fans will love it and it turns the pocket roadster into a striking looker.
Other features include forged aluminium alloys developed exclusively for the MX-5 by Rays and for the first time in the UK Brembo front brakes with the callipers also finished in orange. A badge displaying the model's serial number also features on the side of the car.
Inside, the orange theme continues with accents on the Recaro sports seats, door trim, gear-lever and dash. Alcantara on the seats and trim completes the package, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard.
All the instruments and controls are taken from the current fourth generation model which was upgraded earlier this year.
Like all other 2.0-litre MX-5 models, the newcomer features the 184ps version of Mazda's Skyactiv-G engine linked to the company's superbly slick six-speed manual gearbox. It also comes with Bilstein dampers, a strut-brace and limited slip differential.
It is good for a top speed of 136mph and can sprint to 62mph in 6.5 seconds. That means it will hold its own with most hot-hatches while providing unrivalled handling and open-air fun.
At the same time it also offers WLTP combined fuel economy of 40.9mpg while the C02 figure has still to be confirmed.
It is a bit of a shame that Mazda did not take the opportunity to provide more power and pace because the chassis would certainly be able to deal with it.
Driving the MX-5 down the twisting country roads of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire makes you realise how much enjoyment the car is able to provide .
The 2.0-litre motor really comes alive above 4000rpm and it gives the Mx-5 a nice burst of pace through the lower gears. It revs all the way up to 7500rpm and combines perfectly with the gearbox.
The MX-5 in any form is really agile and this sport-spec model provides stacks of grip to let you enjoy it to the full. The brake upgrade also helps and the drive is really involving and enjoyable.
Mazda brought along a number of models from their heritage fleet to the launch and I was lucky enough to get a drive in a few of the earlier generation models.
My favourite was easily the Mark 1 of 30 years ago and a short drive in it makes you understand why this car was instantly loved all over the world. With its low centre of gravity, perfect balance and rear-wheel-drive it was and still is the perfect recipe for a sportscar.
That DNA is also found in this latest model and although it is clearly more technical and complicated it still sticks to the same philosophy.
The 30th anniversary limited edition model will sell quickly and like all the limited models in the past will become sought after by enthusiasts further down the line.
Commenting on the launch of the anniversary MX-5, Mazda Motors UK managing director, Jeremy Thomson, said: "in the three decades since the launch of the original model over 130,000 Mazda MX-5s have been sold in the UK.
"This is a sports car that has resonated with enthusiastic British drivers ever since its debut and four generations on it's as popular as ever. Along the way, it has remained true to the original principle of being an affordable, lightweight and above all fun-to-drive roadster. Today it is the very essence of thedriver-and-car-as-one philosophy that goes into every Mazda."
He added: "With its unique detailing, generous equipment levels, exclusivity and bold Racing Orange paint, the 30thAnniversary Edition is the perfect way to celebrate three decades of this iconic sports car."