The Vroomiest Little Cars
This side of the pacific
by Left: Courtesy Mitsubishi, Right; Courtesy Mazda North America; Courtesy Mini USA
2007 Mazda MX-5 Power Retractable Hard Top
Like the car itself, the MX-5’s new retractable hardtop is small, simple and elegant. The back-window area electrically flips upside down into the storage well on pivots that lie outside the seats, while the roof panel nests inside. This design reduces the number of hydraulic pumps, saving weight to help maintain the car’s hallmark
handling. The 13-foot Mazda is not the world’s smallest retractable-roof car, however-that’s the kei-class Daihatsu Copen, which is a full two feet shorter.
Price not yet set; mazdausa.com
2006 Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit
How to make the fastest production Mini ever? Boost it to 214 horsepower by tweaking its intercooler, which chills the air the supercharger crams into the 1.6-liter engine (cooler air equals more air, which results in a faster Mini). Then reprogram the engine- control software for better acceleration, and shave 100 pounds by using18-inch alloy wheels, swapping steel suspension arms for aluminum and losing the rear seat and the sound dampening. Only 415 GPs will hit the U.S., starting on August 19.