What’s new? If there’s one good thing to have come out of the invention of the Peugeot 206CC, you’re looking at it. Because despite the popularity of those removable lids that people have been fitting to MX-5s for the past decade, Mazda has only just twigged that its punters might want a hard-topped roadster. And it’s the success of those flexible coupé cabrio sheds that has done it.And so – with all the plagiarism and efficiency you’d expect from a Japanese carmaker – Mazda’s nicked the idea and introduced an affordable hard-topped convertible that just happens to be better than anyone else’s. There’s no chassis flex, no dumpy rear end styling. This is just an MX-5 with a folding hard roof, pure and simple.What’s it like? Nope, I didn’t believe it at first either. But the cleverness of the hood means that it’s true. It takes up barely any more space than the MX-5’s soft top, so there’s the same, 150-litre boot, roof up or down. It’s a superbly packaged mechanism, and a quick one at that. Twelve seconds might be about four times as long as it takes on a regular MX-5, but it annihilates its hard-roofed rivals.It’s noticeably quieter than the soft-top too. The car even looks more or less the same – the bootlid’s front edge is 4cm higher and the body cavity a tad bigger, but there’s none of the fat-backsidedness of hatchback-spawned CCs. All you gain is 37kg. Eighteen of that’s the plastic (not metal) hood; the rest is ancillaries.Ah, but, you’re thinking, there’s 37kg sat virtually atop the rear suspension pillars and the body’s not quite as stiff as the regular car’s. Mazda has tweaked suspension settings mildly to make it a teensy bit softer. That has to affect the handling, right?Right. But not by much. It’s the sort of difference you’d feel if you carried a fat passenger or loaded the boot with suitcases. It’s still very much an MX-5. So it’s agile, controllable and, between you and me, not quite as much fun as the old one.Should I buy one? Mazda reckons that 20 percent of British MX-5 buyers will go for the Roadster Coupe. At a £1760 premium – £1200 for the roof, £560 for aircon, don’t be surprised if it’s more than that.
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