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Regardless of age, the Mazda MX-5 is a firm favourite and now we have the latest version of this small affordable sportscar and would you believe it has been a part of the motoring scene since 1989.

There is little doubt that it took the motoring world by storm. A lightweight, compact, open topped two seater with a front mounted engine driving through the rear wheels, for many enthusiasts the correct menu. With perfect 50:50 weight distribution, a low moment of inertia for maximum agility, little wonder it was a hit around the world. It became a popular choice for all ages.

The second generation model was launched in 1998, a third in 2005 and the fourth in 2015 and not to forget the MX-5RF launched just two years ago. When production reached 531,890 units in May 2000, the MX-5 was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s best-selling two-seat roadster in history. Total production passed the 1,000,000 mark in April 2016, and the MX-5’s Guinness certification was updated to icon status. B

ringing the story right up to date, the latest version with refinements to design and packaging, improvements to dynamic performance and an upgrade to Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE safety technologies. There are improvements to the advanced SKYACTIV-G two litre petrol engine with higher maximum engine speed, increased power and torque output, whilst the advanced SKYACTIV-G 1.5 litre petrol unit delivers higher torque combined with excellent fuel efficiency and environmental performance. The upgraded two litre engine will initially be offered exclusively in the new range-topping GT Sport Nav+ trim in both the RF and convertible, while SE-L Nav+ and Sport Nav+ 184ps models will go on sale later in the Autumn.

The other power choice is the 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G engine which benefits from improved combustion and reduced internal friction to see a slight power increase to 132PS and a moderate torque improvement to 152Nm while at the same time retaining its superb efficiency and fuel economy. I did not get the opportunity to try the smaller engine; but I must add that the six speed manual transmission is one of the sweetest currently on the market. The MX-5 is the sort of car that you would make an excuse to get behind the wheel.

At the launch, Mazda certainly gave every opportunity to put the new baby through its paces with some very demanding roads. Ones that almost seemed tailored for the MX-5. I was able to get behind the wheel of a two litre version over a route which took in counties Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Donegal. The two litre with 184PS delivers torque aplenty and while performance is not stunning, rest to 100kph in less than seven seconds, in a way that does not seem to matter as it is the handling and fun element which shines through. There are a welcome number of design enhancements which include new alloy wheel colours and thankfully the profile of the little Japanese two seater has not been altered, to have done that would most certainly have destroyed its character. On-board ergonomics have also been improved through the introduction of telescopic steering wheel adjustment, a more positive seat recline action and easier door opening.

Safety is always a major factor and there are five new i-ACTIVSENSE safety technologies which deliver greater piece of mind. Advanced Smart City Brake Support which detects vehicles and pedestrians ahead and helps avoid collisions, Smart City Brake Support (Reverse) which detects vehicles and obstacles behind, as well as Driver Attention Alert, a Traffic Sign Recognition System and a Rear View Camera.

Summing up, if you are in the market for a two seater, albeit lacking in luggage carrying ability, then look no further than Mazda!

Ian Lynas

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