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It all began in the early '80s. Whilst most manufacturers were hotting up their hatches to do battle with the Golf GTi, Mazda designers wanted to recreate the classic British '60s sportscar.
Cars like the Lotus Elan and the MGB epitomise the era which the Roadster harks back to. And why not? If you haven't experienced the wind-in-your-hair driving that these cars provide, then you've missed out. The Elan was (and still is) a real giant-killer, thanks to its lightweight construction and Colin Chapman's know-how in the suspension department.
In standard form, the Roadster isn't a fire-breathing, tarmac-destroying kind of car. It's just plain good fun, with very direct steering, fantastic balance, feelsome brakes and good body control over tricky roads thanks to double wishbone suspension all round.
It isn't the leap forward the Elan was in the '60s, but it was never intended to be. Instead, it mixes the classic roadster experience with Japanese quality and reliability in an affordable package and brings it to the masses (over 530,000 were sold from 1989-1999).
It's simply different enough from the run-of-the-mill, anaesthetised hatches and SUVs most people drive today to make it fun. If you want the Elan updated for the 21st Century, then the Elise is your car. I'd love one, but sadly my funds don't stretch that far at the moment. All good things come to those who wait...
A full history of the Roadster can be found here