Published: 09 Nov 2011

Back To Basics Brilliance from the third-generation Mazda MX-5. Just like the previous two iterations, then

In a world where even fun cars are becoming ever more complicated, the Mazda MX-5 stands out like a beacon of no-nonsense simplicity that other manufacturers cannot get close to for trying to be clever all of the time.

It's simple stuff in the MX-5. An engine at the front drives the rear wheels in a compact, rigid body that looks good and has a quick 'n' easy to stow roof. That's it. What more could you want in an affordable roadster?

This is the crux of the MX-5; in what it doesn't give you, it delivers far more. There are no driver aids, folding metal roof or steroidal power outputs. Instead, it makes the absolute most of what it's got.

There's a choice of 1.8- or 2.0-litre engines so, as the even the 2.0-litre doesn't overwhelm, you might as well have the bigger capacity one.

Regardless of which engine you choose, the MX-5 is great to drive, thanks to its light weight and sensibly set suspension, which deals with bumps efficiently and goes around corners just as ably as it makes the corners of your mouth curl upwards.

The Mazda is sensitive to which wheels and tyres you choose, so save the cash and stick with the skinnier standard stuff, because the fatter options tend to follow ruts in the road.

Mazda has kept it simple on the inside, too. There are hints of RX-8 to the cabin style and detailing, but it's not fussy and there's room for taller drivers to be comfortable.

For such a great little car, Mazda has also kept the prices reasonable and you can look forward to depreciation-defying used values.

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