The MX-5 comes with either a 124bhp 1.8- or a 158bhp 2.0-litre engine. The 1.8 has a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the 2.0 has a six-speeder. A six-speed automatic is available with the 2.0. Both engines are capable of strong pace, but they only come alive when they're worked hard.
You want your roadster to be fun? The MX-5 will be right up your street. The light body and rear-wheel drive chassis give it outstanding balance and it just keeps on gripping through corners. Sensitive, communicative steering adds to the experience. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, although Sport Tech versions have stiffer suspension that is less forgiving.
With the roof down, the breeze is well isolated and the high-backed sports seats help prevent draughts around the driver and passenger. With the roof up, though, there’s far too much wind noise at high speeds, and there’s a bit of road noise, too. Both engines sound rather gruff and boomy, and it's best to avoid the automatic gearbox, which isn't very smooth.
The MX-5 is keenly priced and retains its value reasonably well, if not as well as a Mini Roadster. It’s the same story with fuel economy; reasonable, but nowhere close to the Mini. Servicing isn’t cheap, either. So, although the car is affordable to buy, a Mini Roadster will work out cheaper in the long run.
The number of 10-year-old MX-5s you see in pristine condition should answer any doubts over durability. They're simple and super-reliable if regularly serviced, and the MX-5 has an excellent reputation for reliability. The car always does well in the JD Power survey, and while the cabin materials aren’t particularly classy, they’re very sturdy and should wear well.
All models come with stability control and twin front and side airbags, and an immobiliser and an alarm are also standard. As is a system that pops up the bonnet to reduce damage to pedestrians in case of an impact. However, the soft-top MX-5 will never be as secure as the hard-top.
The MX-5's low-slung driving position is exactly what you want in a roadster. The seats are supportive, too, but the steering wheel only adjusts for height, not reach, and the pedals are very off-set. The rear window is rather small, but visibility isn't bad for such a sporty little car.
The MX-5's roof isn't electric, but raising or lowering it by hand couldn't be easier or quicker. The two-seat cabin is cosy rather than roomy, but two tall adults can fit without a problem. The boot isn't exactly huge, but the omission of a spare wheel means you should be able to cram in a couple of overnight bags.
Entry-level 1.8 SE models have air-conditioning, electric windows, remote locking and alloy wheels. The 2.0 Sport Tech adds larger alloys, fog lights, Bluetooth, cruise control, an upgraded stereo and leather seat facings. It also gains a bespoke suspension.
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This is no-frills open-top motoring at its best. The MX-5 is guaranteed to put a big smile on your face and this version is cheap to buy and run.