Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

Just one engine is available: a three-cylinder 698cc turbocharged unit, which delivers 80bhp in standard form. It doesn't sound a lot, but coupled to the Roadster's light body, it's more than enough to have fun with; it has a characterful sound and is nippy at low speeds. Overtaking can be tricky, but as long as it's well-planned, it's not out of the question.

A Brabus tuned version was introduced in mid-2004 with 101bhp (a 17% increase in power) and performs much better - it overtakes with ease and is pacey for back-road blasts. The semi-automatic gearbox splits opinion: some say it's slow and awkward to use, others think that it adds to the roadster's charm.

The rear-wheel-drive roadster has a low-slung driving position, compact size and low centre of gravity - all of which exaggerate how fast you are really going - and gives outstanding levels of grip. Steering is a letdown - rather slow and uncommunicative, but the brakes bite well and it corners superbly. Ride is acceptable, but can get crashy at higher speeds.

The Brabus version has harder suspension giving improved poise at the expense of comfort - it makes for a compelling sports car.