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Driven: Mazda MX-5 1.8 Sport



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The latest high technology and driver aids are all very good in the right place, but sometimes a customer might hanker back to a car that puts you in control, not the other way around.

The MX-5 fulfills that desire. Forget traction control and an electronic stability programme, this car relies on skill and delicacy with the throttle to make good progress.

So if a customer expresses interest in it, forget the sales spiel and get them out on the roads immediately. Find a gently winding A-road, maybe with a couple of roundabouts to traverse too, and the test drive will do the sales pitch for you. Which is useful, as you’d be left shouting above the wind noise otherwise.

Standard equipment on the 1.8 Sport includes heated leather sports seats, leather steering wheel and gearknob, stainless steel scuff plates and a CD-player. Front fog lamps, sports suspension, 16in alloy wheels and a premium cloth soft top help distinguish it from lesser-spec variants.

A totally new MX-5 is due next year, which according to insiders will stick to the uncomplicated rear-wheel driven format. Let’s hope so, or it will be hard to prise current owners out of the existing model.

Strengths: Huge fun
Weaknesses: Getting old now, manual hood
Opportunity: Drives like a roadster should
Threat : Modern coupe-convertibles
USP: Pure driving pleasure
Price: £17,500
Engine : 1839cc, 4cyl, DOHC, 16v
Transmission: 6sp man, rwd
Performance: 0-62mph 8.4sec, top speed 129mph
Efficiency: 31.7mpg combined, 215g/km CO2
Rivals: MG TF, Fiat Barchetta, MR2

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