RAY MASSEY: Mazda revs-up the MX5

Three decades on, the fourth generation of Mazda's MX-5 two-seater drop-top convertible is out, just in time to catch the last rays of summer.
And it comes complete with a meatier new 184 hp 2-litre engine that answers critics who said the 160 hp version lacked sufficient oomph.
The new MX-5 range is priced from £18,995 to £29,195, with the RF (Retractable Fastback Convertible) version — complete with a hard, folding roof — starting from £22,595.
The original MX-5 was Japan's genius move to reinvent the classic British two-seater roadster for the modern era.
It caused a storm when launched at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. 
It bore an uncanny resemblance to the Lotus Elan built in Norfolk during the Sixties and Seventies, and came nearly a decade after MG at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, closed in 1980, marking the end of the Midget and MGB.
I owned a Midget in the Nineties and I remember fondly my first encounter with an MX-5 in 1992 during a budget trip to the Hawaiian islands.
I'd booked a Jeep Wrangler 4x4 to do dirt-track exploring. But seeing rows of the little sports cars in the pick-up point, I did a U-turn. Aloha! I was smitten.
Part of the MX-5's charm has been Mazda bravely resisting the temptation to mess too much with a winning formula. 
Apart from the new engine, the MX-5 Mk4 is barely distinguishable stylistically from the aerodynamically sculpted lines of its 2015 predecessor.
Promising a more engaging drive, it accelerates from rest to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds — 0.8 seconds quicker — and has a top speed of 136 mph.
There's a choice of seven colours, including Soul Red Crystal Metallic which adds £790. 
Marginally shorter, lower and wider than the previous MX-5, it is the most compact version yet. But the only major styling tweak is a new design of 16in and 17in alloy wheels.
It's come a long way from the more rounded original I drove along twisty mountain passes and heavenly sunset beach roads on my Hawaiian adventure.
Kia's stylish new load-lugger
Kia has unveiled its new ProCeed GT grand touring estate car with coupe-like 'sportbrake' styling. 
Expect prices from about £21,000 when it arrives here next year.
The five-door load-lugger is designed in Frankfurt, built in Slovakia and has a 594-litre luggage capacity. 
Engines include a high performance 1.6-litre T-GDi for GT models, and choice of petrol and diesel for GT-Line variants. 
It comes with a seven-year, 100,000 mile warranty.

BMW goes green with a plug-in X5
On a steamingly hot American farm near Atlanta, Georgia, I spotted for the first time BMW's new plug-in hybrid version of its X5 SUV.
It's powered by a 3-litre petrol engine, linked to an 82kW electric motor to give 394 bhp. The charging point is clearly visible on the wing, pictured left. 
Named clumsily the X5 xDrive45e iPerformance, it has a range of 50 miles at speeds of up to 87mph in electric power only (146 mph maximum hybrid speed).
Providing plenty of power, the X5 accelerates from rest to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds with average CO2 emissions of just 49g/ km, and claims 134 mpg fuel economy. 
This new hybrid is built at Spartanburg, in neighbouring South Carolina, and a full road test is to follow in this column.
As petrol and diesel prices soar, it's been an exciting week for rechargeable electric car batteries. 
Williams Advanced Engineering and the Unipart Manufacturing Group are to open a factory in Coventry creating nearly 100 new jobs.
Aston Martin's first electric supercar, the Rapide E, to be built in Wales from next year, will be its first customer.
 
 
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