2018 Mazda MX-5 cornering

Mazda MX-5 Convertible review

Costs & verdict
Manufacturer price from:£19,495
What Car? Target Price:£18,437
Search new deals
Review continues below...

In this review

Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

Aside from the less focused Fiat 124 Spider, the MX-5 is the only new two-seat sports car you can buy at this price level. Even the Toyota GT86, which doesn’t offer a soft-top option, is quite a lot more expensive to buy.

A a relatively lightweight car with pretty efficient engines, the MX-5 shouldn't prove too costly to run. Indeed, both the 1.5 and 2.0 promise to return more than 40mpg under WLTP testing, and we've regularly experienced similar results in real-world testing. In fact, in our True MPG tests, the 2.0-litre gave an impressive 45.1mpg – exceeding Mazda's claims. 

PCP finance deals may prove tempting. Interest-free or cheap monthly payments are routinely offered, albeit they're often dependent on a hefty customer deposit.

Services are due every year or 12,500 miles, whichever comes first, and while Mazda’s fixed-price service plan isn’t the cheapest around, it’s a reasonable cost and can be paid in monthly instalments.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level SE+ cars come with air conditioning, alloy wheels, two USB connectors, a leather steering wheel and bright LED headlights (rather than the halogen lights fitted to most cars at this price).

We’d go for SE-L Nav+ trim, though, because it adds goodies such as climate and cruise control, LED daytime running lights and 16in wheels. A comprehensive infotainment package includes a six-speaker stereo, sat-nav, smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth and a DAB radio, all operated through a 7.0in colour screen. Go for the more powerful engine and you also get bigger 17in wheels and a limited-slip differential.

Sport Nav+ trim throws in extras such as heated leather seats, automatic emergency braking, rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and an upgraded stereo. Again, a model with the bigger engine gets even more, including 17in wheels, sports suspension and a limited-slip differential. It's a fair bit more money, but we'd be tempted to say it's worth it for the added safety kit and improved handling. Because Sport Nav+ is so well equipped, we'd say top-spec GT Sport Nav+ models aren't worth the extra – they only add a few cosmetic updates and the reversing camera.

2018 Mazda MX-5 infotainment

Reliability

The MX-5 performed averagely in the 2018 What Car? Reliability Survey, scoring three out of a total of five stars. Mazda as a brand did far better, however, coming 12th out of 31 manufacturers which puts it ahead of rivals such as Fiat, Mini and Citroën.

The MX-5 gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, with three years of European roadside assistance included.

Safety and security

Euro NCAP gave the MX-5 a four-star crash test rating back in 2015, with individual scores that match or beat the Audi TT. As standard, it gets roll bars, stability control and four airbags, along with a bonnet that springs up to help limit pedestrian injuries in an impact. There’s also an Isofix child seat mounting point.

Sport Nav+ trim adds automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and traffic sign monitoring, while GT Sport Nav+ brings blindspot monitoring, a reversing camera and rear cross-traffic alert.

Thanks to a standard alarm and engine immobiliser, Thatcham Research gave the MX-5 a maximum five stars for resisting being stolen and four stars for preventing being broken into. Obviously, the soft-top will still allow easier break-ins and might prove more tempting to vandalise than the RF's folding hardtop.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

 

open the gallery9 Images

Verdict

The Mazda MX-5 is a terrific two-seat convertible that's great to drive and won't cost a fortune to buy or own. It might only be as fast as a Ford Fiesta ST, and doesn't have the interior luxury of a Mini Convertible, but you can't beat it for pure driving enjoyment.

  • Outstanding ride and handling balance
  • Performance suited to UK roads
  • Low running costs
  • Wind noise at speed
  • Limited storage
  • Driving position lacks adjustment
Trims
There are 5 trims available for the MX-5 sports. Click to see details.See all versions
SE+
You might be tempted by the low price of the SE+, but although you get 16in alloy wheel...
View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£18,437
Average Saving £1,058
View Trim
OUR PICK
SE-L Nav+
This trim adds the 7.0in infotainment system with Bluetooth, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay...
View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£20,138
Average Saving £1,157
View Trim
Sport Nav+
Over SE-L Nav+ you get rear parking sensors, auto lights and wipers, leather seats, a B...
View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£22,312
Average Saving £1,283
View Trim
GT Sport Nav+
Top-spec GT Sport Nav+ models are only available with the 2.0-litre engine and add sand...
View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£24,692
Average Saving £1,403
View Trim
30th Anniversary
We have not written anything about this yet...
View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
£28,095
View Trim