Cost & verdict

Mazda MX-5 Convertible review

Manufacturer price from:£18,995
What Car? Target Price:£18,011
Search new deals
2018 Mazda MX-5 cornering
Review continues below...
25 Jan 2017 14:45 | Last updated: 9 Oct 2018 14:12

In this review

Cost & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Mazda MX-5 sports running costs

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, making this kind of purist driving experience vastly more attainable. Even the Toyota GT86, which doesn’t get a soft-top option, is quite a bit more expensive to buy.

Being a relatively lightweight car with pretty efficient engines should make the MX-5 cheap to run. Indeed, both the 1.5 and 2.0 promise to return more than 40mpg – something we’ve regularly experienced in real-world testing.

PCP finance costs are likely to be tempting, too, with interest-free or cheap monthly payments routinely on offer, albeit 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.

Mazda MX-5 sports equipment

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 it.

2018 Mazda MX-5 infotainment

Mazda MX-5 sports reliability

The MX-5 performed averagely in the latest 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, putting 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.

Mazda MX-5 sports safety and security

Euro NCAP has given the MX-5 a four-star crash test rating, 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 and a 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 be easier to vandalise or allow break-ins than a hard roof.

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


open the gallery9 Images


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

  • Outstanding ride and handling balance
  • Performance suited to UK roads
  • Low running costs
  • Wind noise at speed
  • Limited storage
  • Driving position lacks adjustment
There are 4 trims available for the MX-5 sports. Click to see details.See all versions
You might be tempted by the low price of the SE+, but although you get 16in alloy wheels, LED headlights, air-con and electric windows, you get a very rudimentary infotainment system and no 2.0-lit...View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
Average Saving £984
View Trim
SE-L Nav+
This trim adds the 7.0in infotainment system with Bluetooth, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an extra couple of speakers. You also get climate control, cruise control, heated seats, bl...View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
Average Saving £1,078
View Trim
Sport Nav+
We are yet to try out this variant...View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
Average Saving £1,209
View Trim
GT Sport Nav+
Top-spec GT Sport Nav+ models are only available with the 2.0-litre engine and add sand-coloured leather seats, a black boot spoiler, stainless steel scuff plates, blindspot monitoring and a rear-v...View trim
Fuel Petrol
What Car? Target Price from
Average Saving £1,324
View Trim