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.
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.
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