Mazda MX-5 Convertible review

Costs & verdict

Manufacturer price from:£19,495
What Car? Target Price£18,149
2018 Mazda MX-5 infotainment
Review continues below...

Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

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 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-litre 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 deals can prove tempting and Mazda often offers interest-free finance and cheap monthly payments, but these can be dependent on a you making a hefty initial 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 can be paid in monthly instalments and makes it easy to budget for routine maintenance.

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 because they only add the reversing camera and few cosmetic tweaks.

For real MX-5 fans, the 30th Anniversary Edition comes exclusively in Racing Orange and features forged aluminium Rays wheels, plus orange brake calipers and Brembo brakes. Inside, the orange continues with a selection of coloured highlights to accompany the carbon-fibre and Alcantara finishes. Only 3000 Anniversary Edition models will be sold, worldwide, though, and a fraction of that number will be offered in the UK.

On top of the trim level you choose, there are several option packs for you to choose from, and keen drivers will enjoy the Cup Pack we mentioned earlier. It brings the lowered Eibach suspension along with a Bastuck sport exhaust, while eye-catching black BBS wheels add a finishing touch, while being are lighter than the standard alloy wheels.

2018 Mazda MX-5 infotainment

Reliability

The MX-5 was rated the most reliable sports car in the 2019 WhatCar? Reliability Survey. Mazda as a brand, though, finished mid-table, coming 17th out of 31 manufacturers. This puts it ahead of rivals such as Audi but behind Mini and Toyota.

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 safety 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 (AEB), lane departure warning and traffic sign monitoring, while GT Sport Nav+ brings blindspot monitoring, a reversing camera and rear cross-traffic alert. The latter monitors traffic when you're reversing into a road, alerting you if a vehicle is about to cross your path.

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. Of course, the soft-top will still allow easier break-ins and might prove more tempting to vandalise than the RF's folding hardtop.

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2018 Mazda MX-5 front three-quarter
Open 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

What's important to you?

Performance & drive
Interior
Passenger & boot space