Think ‘Mazda’ and you probably picture an MX-5. The evergreen sports car is the best-selling roadster in history, first launched in 1989 and now well into its fourth generation. The original MX-5 was inspired by the Lotus Elan and the latest car hasn’t strayed from that light and simple formula.
Mazda’s sports car story started well before 1989, though. Back in the 1960s, the futuristic Cosmo was the company’s first car with a rotary engine. Despite displacing just 982cc, it could reach 60mph in less than 10 seconds. Several generations of the rotary-powered RX-7 followed, then the quirky RX-8 coupe in 2008. Lest we forget, Mazda also won Le Mans with the rotary 787B in 1991.
With no hot hatches in its lineup, the MX-5 is the only current Mazda that appeals to keen drivers. It comes in conventional soft-top or folding hard-top RF guises – the latter more refined and vandal-proof, but also around 40kg heavier and £2000 more expensive. We’d stick with the fabric roof. You can choose between 1.5- and 2.0-litre engines, too.
Ti contributor Peter Robinson wrote an insightful two-part story about the birth of the MX-5, which you can read below. Will Mazda line up something special for the car’s 25th anniversary in 2024?