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Never too old for a bit Xtra
Published 26/08/14

Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i - Mazda sports car celebrates 25 years of happy motoring
People and their cars — to my mind the sort you drive can reveal a lot about you.

It might even be said that it gives a clue to a driver’s secret inner philosophy on life itself.

I put it no less strongly than that after watching the first episode of a rather wonderful series currently on ITV called 100-Year-Old Drivers.

I think this documentary gives an insight into how people feel deep down about owning a car. Some will be dismissive of this notion. Those who think of their cars only as a means of getting from A to B will say that to read anything further into it is nonsense.

Yet all those old folks taking part in this TV programme, from the 92-year-old to the 103-year-old, displayed not only a touching dependence on their cars as a vital lifeline in their everyday lives, but also a deep love of motoring.

These drivers of such longevity — more than one of them had been at the wheel for seven decades — must have seen hundreds of makes and models come and go.

The chances are that back in 1989 they might have coveted a small sports car that was launched upon an unsuspecting public and became an instant hit.

And, like those old folks behind the wheel, that sports car — this week’s drive, the remarkable Mazda MX-5 — is still going strong.

In fact, the car is just celebrating its 25th anniversary.

A mere stripling compared with our 100-year-old drivers, the MX-5 I predict is good for at least another 25 years (maybe it could even go on to notch up its centenary).

The rather heartening part of that, if it turns out to be true, is that the MX-5 is one of those cars that a quarter of a century hence will hardly have changed from its present form.

And the simple reason for this is that it is such a complete car — a modern classic and one to be cherished. And it still sells. It may not be your cup of tea — maybe you cannot see yourself any longer in a nippy little sports car such as the MX-5.

Maybe at 50, 60 or even 70 you feel you are too old to succumb to the temptation of zipping along country lanes with the top down. Yet after seeing those centenarians still going about their daily motoring lives, I reckon you are never too old to get some good old-fashioned fun out of motoring as well as practical use.

Indeed, with the MX-5’s top down on a sunny afternoon this week, my wife and I had a great drive in the Cotswolds through the byways from Cirencester to Burford.

There was something of the best aspects of motoring about the trip.

The MX-5’s great charm is that, from its beginning, it has been able to emulate in an extraordinary way British sports cars at their best.

Now the car has a modern twist: the power hood is an absolute boon and a welcome modern bit of technology that drops and puts up the convertible hood in seconds. I recall in my much-loved 1958 MGA Roadster it took what seemed like an age to go topless.

But this 2014 MX-5 is not much different really from that 1989 star car (new tech bits detailed left in the factfile). It still has that lightweight body with (fun-inducing) rear-wheel drive and “perfect 50:50 weight distribution”.

The 25th anniversary limited edition is a bit special and is decked out in soul red metallic paint with contrasting brilliant black accents.

There will be only 750 for sale in the UK and presumably buyers will be real enthusiasts who want to collect a bit of automotive history.

But for all those MX-5 owners who won’t have the anniversary edition, there is still the reassurance that they too own what will remain forever a classic.

Standard car price (on the road)..................£23,295 (Option fitted to test car, mica/metallic/pearl paint, £520)

Test car price (on the road)...........................£23,815

Interior trim, colour/type........................Black leather

Equipment level............................ Sport Tech Nav

Engine/CO2 rating............. ..............Petrol/181g/km

Additional standard equipment on test car (above 1.8i SE air con model)

17-inch alloy wheels with 205/45 R17 tyres

Front fog lights

Cruise control

Sanyo TomTom satellite navigation

Integrated Bluetooth hands-free

By NIGEL WIGMORE, Standard motoring correspondent

Published 26/08/14

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