Mazda MX-5

12 MOULD BREAKERS

Hiroshima channels Hethel. Hiroshima wins

AS A concept, you could say the MX-5 merely perfected or popularised a formula established by cars including the Lotus Elan, Alfa Romeo Spider, Triumph Spitfire and MGB. It definitely broke the mould for Mazda, though, providing the company with a halo car thatís still sprinkling fairy dust over the whole range today, 26 years on from its unveiling.

More than that, though, and more than the roadsters that pre-dated it, the MX-5 proved that a vehicle built purely for fun, with the ideal front-engine, lightweight, rear-drive, short-throw shift approach, could be a massselling proposition.

The car now holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest-selling roadster of all time, with sales certain to go past the one-million mark when the all-new, and arguably best looking, iteration starts shifting units later this year.

There are also few cars with such a fanatical following of believers, who love nothing more than to spout stuff about the carís Jinba Ittai philosophy (horse and rider as one). MX-5 ownersí clubs proliferate around the world and even the older cars, with their cutesy, smiley styling, are collectorís items.

Whatís most important about this nimble, humble little Mazda is that itís simple and simply wonderful to drive, and that the years havenít really changed its original approach that much.

Itís a proper, affordable sports car for the everyman, and just about every man would like to own one.

LEAP OF FAITH

The pure essence of rear-drive, lightweight simplicity and fun in a reasonably priced package thatís pleasant to look at.

PLUS MINUS

TEST OF FAITH

Itís never been as fast as it could be, and the hardtop roofs on modern versions mess with the weight equation a little.