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Roadster recipes for fun at three levels: Aston Martin, Jaguar and Mazda

By Ghaith Madadha - Aug 29,2022 - Last updated at Aug 30,2022

Photo courtesy of Aston Martin

Perhaps the most evocative of car segments, the classic front-engine, rear-drive roadster best captures the fun factor inherent to the act of driving and to cars themselves. Stylish and balanced in proportions, the classic roadster configuration and proportion lend themselves to great looks and great handling, while its open top cabin provides a more visceral sense for the peed and sound of the car, and the elements.

A automotive recipe focused on the driver, with its balanced dynamics, design and open and personal two-seat eating, the roadster is the antidote to more practical yet less viscerally immersing cars, regardless of size, segment or capacity for speed. With wildly varying cylinder count, price, power and sophistication levels, the Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster, Jaguar F-Type P450 and Mazda MX-5 Roadster represent three of the best such cars.

 

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster

 

Aston Martin’s latest exotic convertible, the V12 Vantage Roadster shoehorns the British luxury manufacturer’s vast 12-cylinder engine under the bonnet for spectacular results from the now otherwise familiar model line. Limited to just 249 examples, the V12 Vantage Roadster also adopts a more assertively shapely widebody design to accommodate a wide track suspension, which in turn delivers more sure-footed handling to accommodate the larger, heavier and more powerful engine.

Seductively stylish with its long bonnet, short, pert and tapered rear and now provocatively broad hips, the V12 Vantage Roadster inherits the same engine as its Coupe sister, which is slung far back behind its enormous and hungry grille for a balanced front-mid configuration. Gaining lightweight panels, restyled bumper, more effective aerodynamics and optional lightweight package and rear wing, the V12 Vantage Roadster also features huge fade-resistant carbon-ceramic brakes.

Displacing 5.2-litres, the V12 Vantage Roadster’s twin-turbo 12-cylinder is a howling and relatively high-revving engine. Enormously capable and charismatic in its acoustics and delivery, it produces 690BHP at 6,500rpm and 556lb/ft torque at 5,500rpm. Powering the rear wheels through a 8-speed automatic gearbox and limited-slip differential for enhanced agility and traction, the V12 Vantage Roadster rockets through 0-100km/h in just 3.6-seconds and scythes through the rushing wind until 322km/h.

 

Specifications

  • Engine: 5.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V12-cylinders
  • Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive, limited slip differential
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 690 (700) [515] @6,500rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 556 (753) @5,500rpm
  • 0-100km/h: 3.6-seconds
  • Top speed: 322km/h
  • Length: 4,514mm
  • Width: 1,982mm
  • Height: 1,274mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,705mm
  • Weight: 1,855kg
  • Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones/multi-link
  • Tyres:F/R:275/35R21- 315/30R21

 

 

Jaguar F-Type P450 Convertible

 

First introduced in 2013 as a latter day successor to the iconic 1960s Jaguar E-Type, the F-Type is intended to capture and convey the premium British brand’s sporting heritage and potential. Face-lifted for 2020, the F-Type gained a more aggressive look courtesy of slimmer horizontally-oriented and heavily-browed new headlights. Jaguar’s longest-serving current model, the F-type remains available with the manufacturer’s beguilingly brutal and magnificently bellowing supercharged 5-litre V8 engine.

The most powerful F-Type Convertible variant with a classic roadster rear-wheel-drive configuration, rather than all-wheel-drive, the P450 is a slightly de-tuned version of the manufacturer’s supercharged V8, but nevertheless delivers a mighty 444BHP punch at 6,000rpm and an enormous 428lb/ft kick of torque available throughout a vast 2,500-5,000rpm range. Driven through an 8-speed automatic gearbox the P450 blitzes the 0-100km/h acceleration benchmark in 4.6 seconds and onto a 286km/h maximum.

Expected to be retired upon introduction of a replacement model, the F-Type’s supercharged V8 is a contemporary classic. Muscular throughout its rev range and vociferously vocal, it launches with immediacy from standstill, pulls with effortless ability in mid-range and accumulates power with unabated ferocity at top end. Stable at speed and agile through winding roads, the P450 is, however, best driven with progressive and measured inputs when exiting corners.

 

Specifications

  • Engine: 5-litre, supercharged V8-cylinders
  • Gearbox: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 444 (450) [331] @6,000rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 428 (580) @2,500-5,000rpm
  • 0-100km/h: 4.6-seconds
  • Top speed: 285km/h
  • Length: 4,470mm
  • Width: 1,923mm
  • Height: 1,307mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,622mm
  • Weight: 1,718kg
  • Suspension: Double wishbones
  • Tyres,F/R:  255/35R20 - 295/30R20

 

 

 

Mazda MX-5 Roadster 2.0L

 

The car that re-invigorated the classic front-engine, rear-drive roadster as modern, reliable and affordable when introduced in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 remains true to its “just right” recipe in its fourth generation, circa 2016-onwards. Sporting more tech and equipment than previous generations and available with optional automatic gearbox and electric folding hard-top, the MX-5 is, however, best and truest to character with lighter standard manual gearbox and fabric roof.

A more basic fun roadster that is light and powerful enough for brisk performance and great handling without going to a Caterham’s stripped down extreme, the MX-5 is meanwhile comfortable, convenient and well-equipped without being over-wrought or over-complicated, or too heavy, too fast and too expensive. More dramatic than predecessors, the small, slinky and sexy MX-5 now adopts curvier wheel-arches, waistline and bonnet, with perfect proportions oozing tension and athleticism.

Equipped with the more powerful naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder of two engine options, the MX-5 produces 181BHP at a high-strung 7,000rpm and 151lb/ft torque peaking at 4,000rpm. 

Engineered with a rewarding high-rev bias, the lightweight MX-5 carries its 1,025kg mass through 0-100km/h in 6.5-seconds and onto 219km/h. 

Renowned for engagingly balanced and precise rear-drive handling and steering, the nimble MX-5 also features an optional limited-slip differential for added stability, agility and performance.

 

Specifications

  • Engine: 2-litre, naturally-aspirated 4-cylinders
  • Gearbox: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive, optional limited slip differential
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 181 (184) [135] @7,000rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 151 (205) @4,000rpm
  • 0-100km/h: 6.5-seconds
  • Top speed: 219km/h
  • Length: 3,915mm
  • Width: 1,735mm
  • Height: 1,230mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,310mm
  • Weight: 1,025kg
  • Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones/multi-link
  • Tyres: 205/45R17

 

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