The MX-5 really has no genuine competitors in the market at the moment. Which makes it easy to scoff gently at this mid-life facelift as doing just enough to stay ahead of the game, but that'd be unfair. Why radically change something that's spot on already?
So, for 2009 the MX-5 gets a mildly revised front end with a slightly pointier grille, to bring it in line with the rest of the Nagare-d range. It looks good. Sharp.
The engines have been revised, too - though the power output of both the 1.8- and 2.0-litre units remain the same, fuel consumption falls slightly, while emissions are down a few percent. Nothing big, but all good news.
For the first time, there's the option of a paddle-shifting automatic gearbox, but quite frankly you don't want it. Not when the six-speed manual is a thing of such absolute loveliness, short of throw and precise of travel.
And it's only the six-speed manual (when mated to the 2.0-litre engine) that benefits from the very best bit of the MX-5's facelift: the ISE. That's short for Induction Sound Enhancer, a through-bulkhead tube that, in Mazda's words, ‘gives the power unit an even more exciting sound'.
It might strike you as a bit gimmicky, but it makes a real difference. There's a smooth, zimmy engine note that, when you've got the roof down - which you should do, all the time - adds a really satisfying kick when you blip the downchanges or just stamp the MX-5 to the redline (which, incidentally, has risen by 500rpm to 7500rpm).
Out on the back roads, as you'd expect, the MX-5 is still a brilliantly satisfying thing to drive. The 2.0-litre ‘Sport' model, with tougher shock absorbers, a limited slip diff and lovely new bucket seats, is the best of the bunch: perfectly flat and neutral through the corners, but not so stiff that you'll be coughing up pieces of your lower spine the next day. The steering feels just a fraction sharper than before, while the traction control will happily let you get a bit heart-in-mouth before reigning things in.
Hardcore sceptics might moan that the revisions to the MX-5 don’t lift it from its hairdresser realms, and that Mazda should offer a properly lairy MPS version. But, in truth, the MX-5 doesn't need any more power. It's dead on, just as it is. Swallow your masculine pride and embrace your inner metrosexual. It'll thank you for it.