There are few better sights than a banged up old Mk 1 Mazda Roadster complete with worn tyres, sun diminished paintwork, rusted arches, a few dings in the body work and a cheap slightly silly sounding aftermarket exhaust.
These cars represent the essence of non impressive income performance motoring. Recently you can pick up a 90’s Roadster for about the same price as a set of tyres. They are simple, robust, wonderfully diminutive, rear wheel drive and beautifully handling machines.
Proof exists in the little Mazda that satisfying sports car ownership doesn’t need to mean huge power, high expense and temperamental mechanicals.
Today at the end of 2008 we still have the Roadster or be it in it’s slightly fatter and more pristine looking Mk 3 version.
Unveiled earlier this month the revamped Mk 3 has hardly changed from the original new generation Roadster released in 2006.
To be honest i liked the Mk 3 as it was but Mazda don’t agree and subsequently have felt the need to a little fettling.
The changes are almost entirely cosmetic. A new front five point grille takes the place of the previous oval mesh and now includes fog lights. Attention has also been focused on the rear bumper to create a more extreme convex shape that Mazda says improves airflow.
Mechanically the car benefits from some acoustic tuning to create a more purposeful soundtrack from the twin tailpipes as well as a revised suspension. Perhaps more fundamental is that the 2 litre 170 ps engine now achieves a 500 rpm increase.
The 2006 Mk 3 is still a fairly rare sight on the roads when you compare it to its predecessors. It was criticised by some quarters as a much softer feeling car than before and that it may have pandered to too big a customer base in the drive to bring the car more upmarket.
That may be the case but (new facelift included) it is an attractive thing and even with the added fat the years have added it manages to look intensely well proportioned.
Historically Mazda’s roadsters are hightly regarded the world over and always seem to achieve a mention in those silly top ten cars ever lists that magazines and Discovery Channel are so fond of. Usually a Jaguar E Type or Corvette wins outright depending on whether the results were produced in the UK or America.
Although an all new design is expected in 2012, Mazda do seem to attaching a lot of importance to this mid life update, even persuading their top developer Takao Tokushima to stay on a further year before retirement to ensure the new product.
In Japan we get a choice of five or six speed manual or 6 speed automatic. Cars can also be specified with either a soft top ot retractable hard top.
Prices from 2,330,000 JPY.