If you count all the model generations, Mazda’s reinterpretation of the classic British sports car has been around significantly longer than the most notable example of the original genre - the MGB. And for the third generation of the MX-5 (known as the NC), Mazda stuck with the tried-and-tested formula of naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines and rear-wheel drive.
It was bigger and heavier than before, but larger, more powerful engines in the form of a 128hp 1.8 and a 160hp 2.0 litre ensured performance remained peppy (if not mind-blowing).
The styling, the work of Jaguar chief designer Ian Callum’s younger brother Moray, gave the MX-5 a bit of a friendlier vibe, with its lozenge-shaped front and rear lights and pronounced geometric wheel arches, but it was still very much a trad two-seat roadster. In the cabin, the larger body afforded you a greater sense of space and, in 2006, the Roadster Coupe brought about the extraordinary luxury of a retractable hardtop (for a modest weight gain of 36 kilos).
There are far more special editions than we have space to write about here, but all of them share one thing in common – beautifully balanced handling and the ability to put a huge smile on your face even at legal speeds.