Test 1: the B-Road Face-off
Yes, the MX-5 has drained the bargain roadster gene pool, then concreted over it. RIP MR2, less so MG TF. But the entry-level drivers’ cars are still to be found, albeit in different, less comparable forms. Take the almost identically priced Ford Fiesta ST: to hot hatches what the Mazda MX-5 is to sports cars. Not in having a long and cherished lineage (there’ve been one or two dud hot Fiestas) but because it is, right now, the default. Cheap enough to be attainable, practical enough to be usable, and laugh-out-loud good to drive. And, ultimately, not that challenging. You could outgrow both, but in the process, you’d feel you’d wrung 100 per cent out of them every time a white circle bisected by a black diagonal streak shrunk into the rear-view mirror.
Photography: Lee Brimble
This feature was originally published in the December 2015 issue of Top Gear magazine.