image88760_bWhat is it?
A delightful way to spend a mid-life crisis.

What’s in it?
A 118-kilowatt two-litre with a six-speed manual.

Is it thirsty?
I used 10.5 litres per 100 km in the city, 7.5 in the country. The official combined figure is 8.1.

Thumbs up
An involving drive along with Japanese build quality.

Thumbs down
Getting out, getting in, a tiny cabin and boot, no spare tyre.

Lots of those buying two seater sports cars are males of mature years. The irony of this is that it requires the flexibility of a 14-year-old to exit something this low with any dignity. Should this be no longer applicable in your case, a word on technique.

Mazda MX5 pic

While swinging your right foot out to the ground place your right palm on the door sill as far to the rear of your bum as you can manage. Now throw your weight on your right arm and swing out over it to wind up facing the rear of the car. Easy as pi and with a bit of practice you look as agile as any 20-year-old. Well, maybe any 30-year-old.

If Mazda had any sensitivity at all the doors of the MX5 would be a little longer. They’re a smidgen too short to effect this technique seamlessly, although it can be tweaked to work acceptably enough not be snickered at in supermarket car parks.

Egress is the MX5’s only problem. Oh okay, it takes a bit of getting into that tiny cabin as well, but once in what a splendid place this is. There’s an oil pressure gauge right in front of you that rises and falls with each gear change and the tacho is positioned such that when the needle reaches far north things are serious indeed.

There’s no persiflage, it’s all business in here. Purists will argue cruise control and the electric retractable hardtop but at least it cycles in just 12 seconds.

The motor is flexible and willing; the light, fast and direct close ratio six-speed manual is delightful. It can get quite noisy in the cabin but the noises are all the right ones and they make your involvement with the road outside total.

Ride is hard, but when you chuck the MX5 into a fast corner you feel the rear end tucking in solidly and it goes around with disarming nonchalance. “Comon,” they car is saying to you, “throw me something hard you big putz.”

This is far from the fastest car on the road but it’s undeniably one of the most enjoyable. The big bonus is that unlike the classic 60s British sports cars it’s based on, it’s well made, reliable, cheap to run and doesn’t leak oil like the Exxon Valdez.

After two decades without radical changes Mazda must be making heaps on this car. That doesn’t stop me wanting one.

Published January 2013