For those who doubt there is a simple success formula, I give you the MX-5.
While most car makers say it is the latest technology and luxury which sells, the MX-5 contradicts the concept. And the world loves it.
The best selling two-seater ever with its signature folding fabric roof has just arrived in its fourth generation in the UK and it pulled in over 1,000 orders before it hit showrooms.
There are nine models priced from under £18,500 and rising to almost £23,300 in five trim levels based on 131hp 1.5-litre or 160hp 2.0-litre petrol engines.
Since its UK launch in 1990, the Mazda MX-5 has maintained its unrivalled position as the spiritual successor to the traditional British sports car and across the first three generations, 116,517 MX-5s have been sold in the UK.
“The MX-5 is our brand icon and it’s fun-to-drive character has strengthened the bond between Mazda and its customers for 25 years”, commented Jeremy Thomson, Mazda Motors UK Managing Director.
Featuring Mazda’s award-winning SKYACTIV engine technology, the all-new MX-5’s 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre ultra-efficient lightweight petrol engines deliver new levels of performance and economy, and with the 1.5-litre engine currently accounting for 54 per cent of pre-order sales, both engines are proving to be popular with UK buyers.
With a superior power to weight ratio, rear-wheel drive, perfect 50:50 weight distribution and more comfort and technology than ever before, the all-new Mazda MX-5 comes with generous standard equipment. From SE-L models onwards it features climate control air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth and cruise control, plus Mazda’s MZD-Connect connectivity and infotainment system with 7-inch Colour touch-screen display and Multimedia Commander. SE-L models with the 2.0-litre 160hp engine are distinguished by 17-inch Gunmetal alloy wheels and piano black door mirrors, and benefit from a strut brace and limited slip differential.
Step up to Sport trim and both the 1.5 and 2.0-litre cars feature rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, smart keyless entry, Premium Bose sound system and heated leather seats. With the 1.5-litre 131hp engine, Sport trim MX-5’s come with 16-inch Gunmetal alloy wheels and piano black door mirrors. Sport models with the 2.0-litre 160hp engine benefit from a dynamic set-up that includes Sports suspension featuring Bilstein dampers, a limited slip differential and strut bracing, while visually, they are marked out by their 17-inch Bright alloy wheels and body coloured door mirrors.
Versions of the all-new Mazda MX-5 fitted with Mazda’s integrated navigation system come with three-years of free European map upgrades, while the range topping 2.0-litre 160hp Sport Nav is available with the optional £350 Safety Pack, which includes High Beam Control and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
The lightest MX-5 since the iconic original, the all-new Mazda MX-5 is shorter, lower and wider than the outgoing car, with the smallest overhangs and lowest centre of gravity yet.
In Britain, we tend to buy slightly more 2.0-litre models than the smaller version and order the higher specification levels to improve second hand values.
We tested the anticipated best seller, the MX-5 160hp 2.0-litre Sport Nav, costing from £23,295 but special paint, leather upholstery and safety pack add a further £1,750.
You instantly feel at home in the MX-5, possibly due to its wrap-around cabin design and what I term ‘human’ dimensions so nearly everything is within an arm’s reach, even if you cannot see all the secondary switches.
That ability to reach everything extends to the manually operated folding canvas roof which can be lowered or raised from the driving seat. An excellent point if you want to make the most of the Mazda MX-5 in Britain’s weather.
The beefy engine with 200Nm of torque at a high 4,600rpm endows the MX-5 with good acceleration and mid-range response. It’s not the quickest but it is one of the quietest and the delightful short-shift six-speed gearchange and progressive clutch mean you can fully sportingly exploit the flexible and gutsy engine.
It is a fairly quiet powertrain so it means you hear the road rumbles and low wind noise, but they are not really intrusive and add to the character of the driving experience.
The seats are what you might expect, small, but they are well shaped and support reasonably well and what you miss in absolute legroom if you are tall you compensate with good headroom and a surprising amount of shoulder space.
Oddments room inside is tight with a myriad of small compartments and trays and the boot takes 130-litres, enough for a sportsbag or small overnight cases.
The MX-5 2.0-litre handles very well thanks to the responsive power steering and its stability is better than before as well. It grips with confidence, slows and stops without drama and has a delightful balance and feedback through the seat and steering wheel.
It is easy to see why so many drivers love the Mazda MX-5. You can pass the miles with smiles. Magic.
Milestones: Mazda MX-5, 2-seater, 2.0-litre, Sport Nav. Price: £23,295.
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-clinder, 160hp, 200Nm of torque, petrol engine, 6-speed manual gearbox. Performance:133mph, 0-62mph: 7.3 seconds, Combined Cycle 40.9mpg (on test 29.8mpg), CO2 161g/km, VED road tax £180, BIK company car tax 27%. Insurance group: 29E. Warranty: 3years/ 60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,915mm,
W 1,735mm, H 1,225mm, boot130-litres.
For: Iconic 2-seater sports car, performance, agility, high spec levels, easy to use manual canvas folding roof.
Against: Small boot and limited leg-room, ride over poorer surfaces, minor switches hidden from view, real-life fuel economy. By Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency