Mazda MX-5 - Used

Car Review

 Mazda MX-5, front action
 Mazda MX-5, front static 2
 Mazda MX-5, side action
 Mazda MX-5, rear action
 Mazda MX-5, cockpit
 Mazda MX-5, boot

I TRIED to buy an old MX-5 a couple of weeks ago - a Mazda I've always enjoyed driving immensely and promised myself.

But I missed the best one I could find and so started looking around for something else within my very small price range to bring a driving smile back to my face.

I eventually found a rarity for very little - a 2.0-litre Renault Clio with no less than 138bhp and 0 to 60 miles an hour in 8.1 seconds.

It's a cracking car to drive - not as quick as the Renaultsport Clios of the same era of course, but a delight out on an empty early morning road - and a lot more comfortable.

Howsoever, I still hanker after the open air of an MX-5 and hope to be able to find the right one at some time in the future.

They are like a win on the lotto to drive, with loads of verve, tremendous steering and the most marvellous handling and roadholding.

It has stood out ever since it was launched and is still right up there with the most enjoyable drives on the market.

It's might not be the quickest, but this sportscar is a hoot to drive and marvellous on a warm summer's day with the top down.

From the earliest cars with their pop-up headlights to the latest 1.5 and 2.0-litre, this has been the best small sportscar you can buy.

Not only that, but would you believe, it has also been rated as Most Reliable Car in the World.

When it comes to an affordable two seater, it still stands out and has also stood the test of time.

Ignore the ignorant berks who call it a hairdresser's car because they have obviously never driven one and have no clue what they are talking about.

Engines have been 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litres. Early 1.6 models had about 110bhp and are brilliant, but some later ones had the power cut to 90bhp. The 1.8 originally had 140bhp, but again, this was later reduced to 124.

Latest models are a 1.5 with 130bhp which is a hoot, and a 2.0-litre with 157 that is quicker to 60 by a second.

All bar some 1.6s have a limited slip differential, which helps get the power down onto the road and also keeps occupants safer in adverse conditions.

Acceleration is good to marvellous and all the engines have a wonderful free revving nature with smooth power delivery and a delightful, addictive sound.

All that is very, very good, but where these cars excel is in the corners. The superbly direct power steering feeds road information to the driver's hands like few others and a brilliant chassis gives the most amazing grip and safe roadholding.

It is immensely agile and huge fun and the ride is also much better than any such sportscar has a right to.

Putting the manual hood down takes about three seconds and can be done from the driver's seat, but getting it back up again is easier from the outside.

When up, it's completely weather tight and windproof, and most models come with a glass heated rear window. There is also a model with an electric metal roof but it's not as good looking as the soft top.

Everything inside is beautifully to hand, and the tiny, short throw gearchange is a joy to use.

There have been many different varieties and special editions, some of which have leather and aircon, but all have a marvellous driving position.

Pay about £9,575 for a '115 15-reg 1.5SE, or £16,400 for an '18 18-reg 2.0-litre Sport Nav.

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