Rolling in

Mazda MX-5

Mazda Motor Corporation has recently started production of all-new, third-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata— the latest and most advanced evolution of the world’s best-selling two-seat, lightweight, open-topped sports car. The all-new MX-5 is the first new model to be mass-produced at Mazda’s U1 plant. The first MX-5 off the line was a third generation limited model

bound for North America, and painted Velocity Red with a red leather interior. It is outfitted with a 16-valve, 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 170-hp engine and six-speed manual transmission.

The new version builds on that simple recipe, only with more aggressive styling and more power. The MX-5 will be available with 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol power – the latter offering 165bhp which should give the little Mazda the performance to match its looks. The all-new MX-5 has already been lauded as one of the hottest new cars of 2005. First shown to the world in March at the 2005 Geneva Auto Show, the MX-5 has since been featured prominently

around the world. After its US debut only weeks later at the Greater New York Auto Show, a similar Third Generation Limited model recently completed a nine-city cross-country trip riding atop a retired Chicago Fire Department fire truck, dubbed the “Hot Streak Tour”, raising nearly $100,000 for fire-safety education along the way.

Toyota Aygo

Toyota Motors has unveiled a new city compact car Toyota Aygo. The three-cylinder Aygo offers strong acceleration through the gears and gives high torque. The Aygo’s engine sounds quite unique when as it revs out to 6000rpm. It does 0-62mph in 14.2sec with a top whack of 98mph. Toyota has chosen a firm suspension set-up biased towards agility rather than comfort. For a city car, this is a strange decision. Even the smallest bumps upset it, which doesn’t make driving around town an enjoyable experience. Neither does its tendency to stall. The clutch’s low and rather sudden biting point catches all the testers out at some point.

The five-speed manual gearbox is light and accurate and the next gear is just an easy slide of the lever away. The steering is light for town work and the one-litre, three-cylinder engine is the most eager of the four. Through the bends, the Aygo has a clear advantage. Front-end grip is the best here, while the firm suspension means the body stays taut and level. It becomes fun to work the revvy little engine. The brakes are positive and on the track this is the only car to stop from 70mph in under 50 metres. The steering doesn’t offer much in the way of feedback, but weights up nicely on B-roads. The Aygo doesn’t pretend to be a driver’s car. It rides quite well, smoothing out broken bits of tarmac with aplomb, but it rolls heavily through tight corners. That said, the compromise between ride and handling is good.