For Top Gear magazine’s 300th issue, we celebrated the best 50 cars over 299 issues: here’s our pick of the best sports cars
Surprise! The sports car is still here. No, really. Now the crossover has established itself as the must-have lifestyle vehicle, and anything moderately low, loud, light or chuckable has been vilified as environmentally unfriendly, unsafe, or worse – geeky – the sports car is evidently on its arse.
Back in 1995, Top Gear magazine group-tested the Mazda MX-5 against the Fiat Barchetta, Toyota MR2, Lotus Elan, and MG F. Fast-forward 22 years, and the modern MX-5’s only true rival is a Fiat badge, nailed to an uglier version of itself. Whatever happened to sports cars?
The MX-5 wobbled around on its foundations, steadily getting fatter and butcher up until the current MkIV version, which targeted a kerbweight of a tonne, while still offering all the airbags, aircon, iPhone connectivity and crash protection everyone but the most hirsute of beardy hardcore types has become accustomed to. It succeeded. It’s also got its most snickety gearchange to date, and a proper locking diff, and the best folding roof mechanism of any car in the entire world. Whether sports cars have become unfashionable or not, there’s simply no point in anyone else trying any more. Mazda has got the everyday roadster game absolutely nailed, and the new one manages to feel like a slightly naughty retro throwback and a totally modern piece of kit all at the same time. One that you will want to go out and drive for the hell of it, which is sort of the point of these things, isn’t it? It’ll do 40mpg and takes up about a tenth of a car parking space. Not so irrelevant after all.