We’ve grown used to giving couched verdicts on sports cars, sometimes weighing progress in one direction against compromise in another. Not so here.

There isn’t a single area in which this new Mazda MX-5 fails to surpass its predecessor. It’s shorter, lighter, more spacious and better laid out. It’s sharper-looking but still disarming and distinctive. It’s faster, more frugal and even more vibrant and engaging to drive.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
An outstanding and usable sports car at an outstanding price

All that, and yet the MX-5 is still every inch the same zesty and inimitable car that it was. Its character hasn’t altered at all.

There’s no five-star rating, reflecting the fact that the 1.5-litre mid-spec model tested didn’t quite feel like the definitive version. Most modern sporting tastes will crave a bit more performance than it offers. The 2.0-litre model provides that, as well as even greater handling panache.

And yet the 1.5 has an authenticity that honours the original MX-5. So just pay your money, take your choice and enjoy a far better driver’s car than you’d believe £20,000 could secure.

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