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Six Modern Sportsters

Contemporary CLASSICS Published: 3rd Jun 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Six Modern Sportsters
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If a Boxster or SLK don’t move you then take a look at this sexy six just right for the summer – and available from just a grand, too!

Mazda MX-5

There’s no shortage of clichés with the MX-5 but most are as valid as they are worthy. The Mk3 generation, that’s recently been successfully revamped, may be based on the RX-8 platform but loses nothing in terms of the driver satisfaction that makes its predecessors so appealing. What you get with a Mk3 are chunkier looks more potent engines and a modern cockpit that still has a touch of retro about it.

A hard topped, power- hooded Roadster arrived in 2009 making the Mazda even more of an all weather sports car. Revisions to the [strangely lifeless] power steering and suspension made a good car even better but there’s no getting away from the fact that the Mk1 is the more spirited drive – it’s the price you pay for a more grown up MX-5 that’s as reliable and usable as ever. Small wonder Mazda resolutely refuses to change a winning formula – no needs to.

PAY: £5000 for a good early car, around £6500 for an early Roadster


MG picked a classic name for its retake of the highly successful if suspect MGF, ditching the clever Allegro-based Hydragas suspension for conventional spring and shock absorbers along with other changes. Launched in 2002 it gave the old MGF a useful shot in the arm. But while the MG handled as spiritedly as ever the resultant bone shaking ride was a trade off few welcomed – so much so that a less hard core handling kit was offered.

The 1.8-litre K-Series became available in three states of tune which included the vivacious 158bhp VVC unit. A raft of models and limited editions figured before the Chinese-made variant carried on the tradition as a singleton model. Essentially if you like MGFs, you’ll equally want the TF because many of the bugs the original suffered from (including dodgy head gaskets) were finally ironed out. Some feel that the Chinese cars aren’t as well made as the last ‘Brit’ cars but you can’t knock the sheer value all TFs offer as well as genuine sports car thrills worthy of such a famous badge.

PAY: £1300 or less for average 02 car, £7000 for an ‘10 ‘135’


If you view the Honda S2000 as an MX-5 but will bigger balls then you’re on the right track. Traditionally designed, with in-line engine and rear-wheel drive, it’s one of the best sports car ever made, thanks to a terrific rev-happy 2-litre engine giving out a screaming 250bhp plus the sort of handling that Caterham drivers will warm to. It looks the part too and being a Honda is beautifully made and dead reliable. The only fly in ointment is the car’s high Co2 rating and subsequent VED tax bands making later cars expensive bets to keep on the road all year round.

PAY: £4000 for an early example, £5000+ for a ten year old example and around £13,000 for a last-of-the-line 2009 car from a main dealer (the safest place to purchase one from)


Nissan has been playing Z Cars for well over 40 years but it’s generally agreed that the car lost its mo jo after the 260Z when it went from serious sports car to boulevard cruiser to appease US buyers. Thankfully when Nissan decided to relaunch he Z a decade ago it went back to its roots and the 350 is as close to the original brief as possible.  nitially launched as a coupe, the Roadster came on stream in 2004 and these early examples can be had for verage MGB cash. It’s a modern but there’s a real ‘Big Healey’ flavour about the 350Z. The handling is tail appy and the ride unyielding while that brawny V6, giving neigh on 300bhp, can certainly dish out the power.

PAY: £5000 for an early coupe, £6500 for the convertible. Watch for Grey Imports, too


The original Spider was always going to be a hard act to follow and Alfa’s 1990s replacement never quite scaled the heights as the original. On the other hand the GTV is one of the few ‘moderns’ that has some character about it. The Punto-based Alfa is front-wheel drive, yet the GTV handles ok, although the chassis does suffer from some body flex. Boot space is only beaten by the MR2 and the Italian’s appearance is slightly odd with the hood up. The 159-derived Brera (2006-10) replaced the GTV and while some say it doesn’t drive as well as it looks,
is still a good steer especially the sportier S. Depreciation makes all of them great value.

PAY: As little as £1000 for a 1996 TS, £10,000 for a mid range Brera Spider


On the face of it, the MR2 had the lot but has never truly made it as a classic. Toyota decided to go back to the car’s roots for the third generation, making a simpler roadster that had shades of Porsche Boxster about it. True the 1.8-litre engine it now wore wasn’t a patch on the previous 2-litre which yielded more than150bhp but in real world conditions it felt as agile aided by six-speed transmissions and even a sequential option. Launched in 1999 a revamp in ‘03 brought revised suspensions and much praise for its near perfect handling. As an alternative to an MX-5 or TF the MR2 makes a lot of sense. In fact its only downside is lousy luggage carrying capacity even for a sports car – and some worryinng reliability issues.

PAY: £2200 for ‘02, £5000 for a ‘56 plate

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