Mazda MX-5 Open full 9 point review
Two four-cylinder engines are offered in the MX-5 – a 1.5 and a 2.0-litre unit. The 1.5-litre version is brisk rather than outright fast, and you have to rev the engine to its limiter to get the best from it. The nippier 2.0 is a better all-rounder, so is what we’d go for. Both engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Ride & Handling
The MX-5 is an extremely light car, with the lightest versions weighing less than a tonne. That means it is exceptionally nimble and quick to change direction, but another positive is that it can have comfortable suspension yet still feel keenly tied down. The steering is accurate and provides plenty of feedback, too.
Noise levels with the roof up are perfectly acceptable, and wind rush is successfully diverted around you and your passenger when the hand-operated hood is dropped; this means the cabin feels open to the elements but is not overly blustery. Both engines deliver a pleasing rasp at medium revs and stay smooth at high ones, but it’s the manual gearbox’s fantastically slick shift that makes changing gears and working the engine the biggest pleasure.
Buying & Owning
Prices are extremely competitive: the entry-level model is less than £19,000, and there are precious few sports cars available at this price. Even the most expensive versions are comparatively good value when you consider how well equipped they are. The car’s light weight and relatively efficient engines make it cheap to run, too.
Quality & Reliability
The only MX-5 we’ve driven so far was a pre-production prototype whose interior wasn’t completely finished. However, it still felt better than any previous MX-5 inside, with a good level of fit and finish. The outgoing model scored well in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey in terms of reliability, and Mazda as a brand also did well, so the omens are good for this version.
Safety & Security
Stability control and four airbags are fitted as standard, along with a bonnet that springs up to help limit pedestrian injuries in an impact. There's also an Isofix child seat-mounting point. An alarm and engine immobiliser are fitted, too, which will help to deter thieves.
Behind The Wheel
The MX-5’s driving position is perfectly straight, with ideally spaced pedals and a steering wheel that lines up with the centre of the seat. We’d like the steering wheel to adjust for reach as well as rake, though, and the high window line can make the interior feel quite snug. What few buttons there are in the cabin are simple to use and within easy reach.
Space & Practicality
In a bid to improve the MX-5’s weight distribution and boost its agility, Mazda has put the two seats as close as it felt it could to the centre of the car. Despite this, shoulder-room is fine, and headroom is also perfectly acceptable beneath the raised roof because the seats are mounted suitably low. Rivals have larger boots, but the MX-5’s is quite big enough for several overnight bags.
Entry-level SE versions come with air-conditioning, alloy wheels, a USB connection and a leather steering wheel as standard. We'd be tempted to go for SE-L trim, though, which adds climate control, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Mazda's impressive touchscreen infotainment system. Sport versions get heated leather seats, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, and an upgraded stereo, but they're quite a bit more expensive. Sat-nav can be added to SE-L and Sport versions.