2013 Mazda MX-5 review

* Updated Mazda MX-5 driven in UK * Revised styling, throttle response and safety kit * On sale now, priced from 18,495...

2013 Mazda MX-5 review

The hugely successful Mazda MX-5 roadster has been updated for 2013, with new styling, the latest safety kit and tweaks to the way it goes and stops.

Its front looks more aggressive than before, thanks to a deeper chin spoiler that reduces drag around the foglamps and over the front tyres.

The new MX-5 is also the first Mazda to get an active-bonnet safety system; during a collision with a pedestrian, the trailing edge of the bonnet pops-up to increase the crumple zone between the bonnet and engine.

Mazda technicians also worked to give manual cars a better throttle response, and adjusted the brakes to increase control when cornering.

All cars now get climate control and a glossy dark dashboard finish as standard, while Sport tech models gain an auto-dimming mirror and aluminum pedals.

Three new exterior colours are available, too, and theres a new, Sport Tech Nav trim. This comes complete with an iPod socket, Bluetooth connectivity and sat-nav a first for the MX-5.

Whats the 2013 Mazda MX-5 like to drive?
As before, the MX-5 is offered as a soft-top and a folding hard-top, and with 124bhp 1.8-litre and 158bhp 2.0-litre petrol engines. We drove the 2.0-litre manual Roadster-Coupe.

You still need to work this engine hard to get the best from it, but its more flexible across the rev range than before; there are no pronounced dead patches in the acceleration.

The new brakes scrub off speed quickly, and the car stays composed during heavy stops.

The MX-5 remains great fun to drive, then, with precise steering and superb balance and agility. As before, the suspension is firm enough to ensure decent body control, but supple enough to stop bumps thumping into the cabin or throwing the car off course.

Whats the 2013 Mazda MX-5 like inside?

Aside from the gloss black dash finish and extra standard kit, it's business as usual inside the MX-5. That's to say it's simple, but extremely well built.

The driving position is low, but comfortable, with supportive seats and a steering wheel that adjusts up and down the lack of reach adjustment isn't a huge problem.

The switchgear is as hard-wearing as it always been, while the buttons are easy to read and reach on the move and the standard climate control is a doddle to operate.

Roof down and wind deflector up, the cabin remains surprisingly warm and free from bluster, with the heater and optional heated seats working together well.

You'll still find a manual roof release mechanism present on both the Roadster-Coupe and soft-top models.

However, it's the MX-5s roof-up refinement thats most disappointing. Even with our test car's glassfibre roof, road and wind noise are nuisances, and while working the engine hard is the best way to enjoy an MX-5, it does make your progress somewhat noisy.

Should I buy one?
If you like your roadsters fun and fantastic value for money, the MX-5 now makes more of a case for itself than ever.

It handles beautifully, while the power delivery is genuinely improved and the brakes inspire confidence. Standard equipment is better, too.

Rivals such as the Mini Roadster and Audi TT Roadster are undeniably great drivers cars, but neither gives you the same sort of equipment at similar money.

It's just a shame that, even with a hard roof, the MX-5 is quite so unrefined at speed.

What Car? says...

Audi TT Roadster
Mini Roadster

Engine size 2.0
Price from 22,995
Power 158bhp
Torque 138lb ft
0-60mph 7.9sec
Top speed 136mph
Fuel economy 36.2mpg
CO2 g/km 181g/km

By Rory White