The Mazda MX-5 is a class act inside and out. We love it so much we named it as our Convertible Car of the Year at the 2016 What Car? Awards - a category where it beat more expensive rivals including the Audi A3 Cabriolet and BMW 4 Series Convertible.
Its ride and handling seem perfectly suited to UK roads, and despite not having a huge engine, the light and nimble MX-5 feels plenty fast enough. What impresses most, though, is the fun factor: this is a car that will have you smiling come rain or shine.
So should you consider a Mazda MX-5 as your next car? Here are 10 reasons to take the plunge.
10 reasons to buy a Mazda MX-5
The MX-5 is great fun to drive. It's nippy and feels playful on UK roads - whether you're in town or in the countryside. Our preferred 2.0-litre petrol engine provides thrilling speed, yet is also reasonably economical.
9. Usable interior
You'd be forgiven for thinking that, given the MX-5's small dimensions, interior space would be at a premium. In fact, all but the very tallest of drivers will have enough space to get comfortable, while there's enough space for a couple's weekend luggage in the boot.
With the MX-5 costing from just £18,495, it's one of the cheapest convertible sports cars on the market. It's also in a class of its own - the Toyota GT86 is its closest competitor and costs from £25,945.
7. Driving position
You sit low in the MX-5 and there's a tilt-adjustable base to the seat. There's no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, only height, but most drivers will find a position that suits them. The high-set, stubby gearlever is a welcome addition, too.
6. Excellent handling
The rear-wheel-drive MX-5 is nimble and quick and feels fantastic through corners. It's thoroughly involving, and if you go for the Sport model you get stiffer suspension, too, which keeps body roll under control through tight turns. The standard set-up is still comfortable, though.
5. SE-L trim
One up from standard SE specification is SE-L, this gives you everything you're going to want including a colour touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth and DAB, climate and cruise control, LED daytime running lights and the option of satellite navigation. There's no need to look any further up the range.
All but entry-level cars get Mazda's MZD Connect 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, which can also be controlled via a rotary dial on the centre console. It's quick to respond and the satellite navigation – an optional extra – works well.
3. Build quality
The MX-5's switches all feel well damped and the build quality is generally very good. The plastics don't feel too cheap, while further up the range luxuries such as heated seats and leather upholstery give the MX-5 a premium feel.
Worldwide, there's plenty of love for the MX-5 name, whether for this latest version, the previous models or for the very first MX-5, which came in 1989. There's a thriving online community to get involved with, too.
Historically, both the MX-5 and Mazda have great reputations for reliability. In our most recent manufacturer reliability survey, Mazda ranked fourth out of 37 car makers. The MX-5 gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty and three years of European roadside assistance as standard.
What about buying used?
The previous-generation MX-5 was on sale between 2005 and 2015 and is every bit as impressive as the current car. It's great fun to drive and feels nimble and agile through corners. Provided you're not too concerned about boot space – and let's face it, who is with a convertible sports car? – then the MX-5 could fit into your life very well.
The MX-5 can be had both as a soft-top convertible and as a hard-top Coupé Cabriolet. The cheapest models from this era start at just £1800, but it's worth spending a little more for a well cared-for example. We'd stick with the soft-top models and go for the smaller 1.8-litre petrol engine, which has enough power but also offers reasonable running costs. The range was facelifted in 2009, which brought with it more interior options. A sub 50,000-mile car with our preferred 1.8 SE specification can be had for around £7000
Whichever model you go for, be sure to check the roof's folding mechanism is working and that there's no sign of damage, tears or leaks. The Coupé Cabriolet's roof is known to stick open because of faulty position sensors. Look for damp patches on the seats and carpets where the roof has been left open, too. Some owners have complained about a buzzing noise from the gearlever when the car is accelerating, too, but it's nothing to worry about. Check for uneven tyre wear, as this might indicate that the wheels are not aligned properly.
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