Mazda upgrades MX-5

THERE are some things in life you hope you never have to try out – like the pedestrian-friendly bonnet on the newly revised Mazda MX-5.

Come to think of it any pedestrian with a sense of self preservation will be hoping you never have recourse to try it out.

It’s there, but in all probability you’ll never need it. Unlike the sat nav system and climate control air conditioning that are now standard on the iconic little sportscar, that’s been with us since 1989.

Cast your mind back – it was the year the Chinese squared up to the authorities in Tiananmen Square, Dirty Den bowed out of EastEnders, Sky TV hit the screens and Eternal Flame by the Bangles flickered into life.

And while the Bangles hit still gets played a bit but not a lot, the instant love affair that developed between the motoring public and the MX-5 shows no sign of abating.

Nearly 24 years on, the iconic little Japanese sports car still fits the tag it was given over two decades ago. That august organ Autocar described it as the most complete and satisfying sports car money can buy. And to buyers the world over, it still is.

Nowadays, you can opt for a retractable hard top that takes just 12 seconds to transform it to top up or top down motoring, The purists might not like it – and canvas wins every time in my book – but it’s one of a mere handful of changes that have been made to the two seater over the years.

The latest seven strong MX-5 range is on sale priced from £18,495 to £23,595 OTR.

It’s got an aggressive new front grille (see pic) and bumper treatment, with a chin spoiler that gives it a deeper and wider look. Still patently an MX-5, though, because only a fool would alter its distinctive looks. And Mazda are no fools.

Among the changes, briefly, are an auto dimming rear view mirror on Sport Tech and Powershift models, with Sport Tech getting a set of alloy pedals to dance on.

The Sport Tech Nav gets a 5.8 inch touch screen monitor, 4GB SD card based map, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.

Powerwise, the choice is the 126ps 1.8MZR with five speed gearbox, and the 160ps 2.0i MZR with six speed manual or ‘Powershift’ six speed sequential paddle shift transmission that gives you manual control or fully automatic shifting.

How does it go? Just as well as it ever did, a well balanced set up with swift acceleration, accentuated by the fact you’re driving with the wallet in your back pocket scraping the road surface below.

It might not be a car that you fit into particularly well if you’re a big bloke (or even lass) but it’s an experience to be savoured – witness the sales figures over the past 23 odd years.

So, affordable to buy, pretty low running costs, decent reliability and good residual values.

It’s a story with no end in sight….

> Keeping up to date with all the changes to manufacturers’ growing ranges can be a daunting prospect these days, so half a day sampling the latest from the Mazda collection was put to good use.

Mazda3 has become the biggest seller for the brand around the world, and in the UK the line up starts with the Tamura at £15,995.

Mazdas in the main are fairly understated – but not in the case of the range topping Mazda3 MPS with its huge rear spoiler and distinctive body kit that leaves you in no doubt about its ability to soil your Calvins.

It has blistering acceleration but it is also very light at the front when you delve into the 260ps/380Nm available under your right foot from the 2.3 litre turbo engine.

On a damp road it’s a bit of a handful, the torque steer that builds up tugging unmercifully at the front wheels. Good then that there is a pair of supportive sports seats to keep you in the right place – behind the wheel, in the drivers case

With a  6.1 sec 0-62 time and a top speed of 155mph, it’s not for the faint hearted.

So in that case, if you want the looks but not the laundry bill, a sensible option is the Mazda3 1.6 5 door Venture with its responsive and punchy diesel engine. That comes with light gunmetal alloy wheels, a unique rear spoiler, privacy glass, a 5.8 inch sat nav system, Bluetooth, auto lights and heated front sports seats. Its combined fuel figure is a tidy 65.7mpg, and will set you back £18,995.



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