Price range: £7595-£12,845
You'll like: driving it; reliability
You won't: not a lot
Roadsters don’t come much better than this little Mazda – or more enjoyable. Drive an MX-5 and you’ll love it; own one and you’ll never want to sell it
What’s it like?
The original MX-5 was launched in 1989, but the car in the spotlight here went on sale in 2005 when the traditional soft-top was joined by a Roadster Coupé. The Roadster has an electrically powered folding fibreglass roof, giving the security of a hard-top car but with wind-in-your-hair motoring at the touch of a button.
A two-seater sports car can never be described as practical, but the MX-5 is comfortable and reasonably roomy, with a boot that will happily accommodate a couple of overnight bags. The Mazda is also cracking to drive, and reliable, too.
What to watch out for...
Scroll across to see what you should be looking out for when buying a used Mazda MX-5
There are far more soft-top MX-5s on the second-hand market than Roadster Coupés. The soft-top is cheaper, but the Roadster Coupé has slightly more kit as standard, so it’s still good value for money.
The 1.8-litre models are quick enough and cheaper to run
than the 2.0-litre versions – but go for the 2.0 if you want to make the most of the MX-5’s agile chassis.
Avoid 1.8-litre models with steel wheels – go for one with the Option pack, which adds alloys, a leather steering wheel and a stereo upgrade. The 2.0 cars have stability control and side airbags, while the Sport, available only as a 2.0-litre, comes with larger alloys, leather trim and heated seats.
Roadster Coupé specifications are broadly the same as the soft-top’s, except that climate control is fitted on all variants.
Official fuel economy stands at 38.7mpg for the 1.8, 36.7mpg for the 2.0 and 34.5mpg for the 2.0 Sport. The 1.8 sits in insurance group 11, two below the 2.0 models. From next year, you’ll pay £205 in road tax for the 1.8 and £260 for the 2.0.
Mazda dealers provide excellent servicing, but using one of the many independent specialists will save you money.
Expect to pay roughly £8400 at an independent garage for an 06-plate 1.8 soft-top with around 30,000 miles on the clock.
The Roadster Coupé in the same spec should set you back just over £9000.
A 10k-mile 07-plate 2.0 Sport will be nearer £13,000 from a dealer. There are some great deals on 58-plate cars with delivery mileages, too, such as a 1.8 for less than £12,500.
On the road
The MX-5 is one of the best cars to drive, regardless of budget or badge. The ride is comfortable and well controlled over broken surfaces, especially in the Roadster Coupé, which has slightly softer suspension settings than the soft-top. Both models are impressively agile. The steering is precise and full of feel, while the rear-wheel-drive chassis offers fluid handling with bags of grip.