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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For Great to drive, reliable and desirable

Against Limited boot space, but that's about it

Verdict Fun, fast and rock solid: what more could you want from a convertible sports car?

Go for… 2.0i roadster

Avoid… 1.8i coupe cabriolet

Mazda MX-5 Open
  • 1. Reasonably sized boot for a two-seater
  • 2. Check roof mechanism and examine for leaks before you buy
  • 3. Some owners complain of a buzzing noise near the gearstick, but Mazda says it's nothing to worry about
  • 4. Check for uneven tyre wear - wheels could be misaligned
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Mazda MX-5 Open full review with expert trade views

Unlike previous generations of MX-5, this model is available in two different guises: to complement the traditional soft-top roadster, a Coupe Cabriolet was introduced. Its electrically powered folding hard top gives the refinement of a coupe, but allows you to get the wind in your hair at the touch of a button.

The MX-5 is one of the best-driving cars available, regardless of budget or badge. Both hard- and soft-top 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. The ride is comfortable and controlled over broken surfaces, especially in the hard-top coupe, which has slightly softer suspension settings.

A two-seater sportscar can never be described as practical, but the MX-5 is comfortable and reasonably roomy for two, while the boot provides a good usable space for smaller bags.

Trade view

The Coupe Cabriolet version gives the best of both worlds, but is rarer and more expensive to buy.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

There are far more roadsters than Coupe Cabriolets on the market. The first is cheaper to buy, but the second does have a slightly higher spec as standard, so it's not bad value.

Avoid the entry-level model, which come with steel wheels, unless it has the Option Pack fitted. This adds alloys, a leather steering wheel and cabin trim, and a stereo upgrade. The 1.8-litre model is fast enough, and slightly cheaper to run. However, if you want to make the most of the MX-5's agile chassis the 2.0-litre is best. The larger-engined model also comes with electronic stability control and side airbags as standard. The Sport, only available as a 2.0-litre, has alloys as standard, as well as leather upholstery and heated seats.

The range was facelifted in 2009, with changes to the front and rear bumpers, door mirrors and enhanced cabin trim. SE replaced the old entry-level trim, while Sport Tech superseded Sport.

Trade view

It's hard to beat a used MX-5. There are loads available, prices are reasonable and it's great fun to drive.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Official fuel economy stands at 38.7mpg and 36.7mpg for the 1.8 and 2.0-litre models respectively, while the Sport drops to 34.5mpg. However, in the real world you'll struggle to achieve these figures if you enjoy the car's performance to the full.

The 1.8-litre is cheaper to insure, at group 11, compared with the 2.0-litre at group 13. The 1.8 generates 174g/km of CO2, with the 2.0 at 183g/km. Revised, more efficient engines when the car was facelifted in 2009, bringing the 1.8-litre down to 167g/km and the 2.0-litre to 177g/km.

Mazda dealers are excellent for servicing, but using one of the many independent specialists will save money, especially on cars out of warranty.

A great reputation and desirable image mean that the MX-5 depreciates slower than most cars, so you'll lose less money in the long run.

Trade view

The Coupe Cabriolet version gives the best of both worlds, but is rarer and more expensive to buy.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Whether you're looking at a roadster or a Coupe Cabriolet, check the roof-folding mechanism, and that there are no signs of leaks, tears or damage. The Coupe Cabriolet's roof can stick half open, because of faulty position sensors.

Careless owners can leave the roof down in poor weather, so it's important to check for damp patches and water marks on seats and carpets.

Some owners complain of a strange buzzing noise from near the gearlever when the car is accelerating. Mazda says it's nothing to worry about.

The wheels can be incorrectly aligned, so check for any signs of uneven tyre wear.

Trade view

It's hard to beat a used MX-5. There are loads available, prices are reasonable and it's great fun to drive.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
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