Mazda MX-5

Rear-wheel-drive thrills keep two-seater at the top of the pile

Why it won...

Not many cars can boast a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, but the Mazda MX-5 has become a fixture in it. It has cemented its status as the best-selling roadster in history, with more than 900,000 finding homes since it made its debut in 1989. And it’s clear that British buyers can’t get enough of the tiny two-seater, as the UK market accounts for 10 per cent of global MX-5 sales.

A short blast behind the wheel is all you’ll need to understand why the latest version is such a smash hit. For smiles per mile at an affordable price, nothing comes close to matching the little Mazda. If you want to go topless this summer, the MX-5 is the ultimate way to do it.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Mazda MX-5

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Lively performance and beautifully balanced, confidence-inspiring handling combine with ageless looks and a simple, well built cabin – these are all the things buyers demand in a roadster. Opt for the fabric hood, and you get a basic manual set-up, which takes some beating. The RC model adds a quick-folding hard-top.

The range is bigger than ever, too, and includes a PowerShift auto version, with steering wheel-mounted paddles. Driving enthusiasts should stick with the manual, though, as you can’t beat the slick, mechanical feel of its lever as it snicks between ratios. On this evidence, it will take something genuinely special to steal the MX-5’s hard-won crown.

Our pick: The 2.0-litre SE soft-top provides the best combination of performance, equipment and value for money. But keep your eyes peeled for tempting special-edition models.

Highly commended

Porsche Boxster The Mazda MX-5 has no direct rival these days, but if you want more performance from your drop-top, and have a bigger budget, the Boxster provides unrivalled driver appeal. Exclusive badge and characterful flat-six engine make the entry-level Porsche a fine buy.

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