2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport review - price, specs and release date

If the sunny weather has got you yearning for some roof-down motoring, is the Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport worth your consideration?...

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Alan Taylor-Jones
18 April 2018

2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport review - price, specs and release date

Priced from £25,610 Release date Now

There are a few things in life that you’d happily bet your house on. Of those, English summer rain, bank holiday traffic jams and a constant stream of limited editions of our favourite convertible are the safest wagers you could possibly make. So with impeccable timing, let us introduce the latest limited-run roadster, the Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport.

Sitting at the very top of the range, the Z-Sport is based on the 2.0-litre Sport Nav model. That means you get the most powerful engine available, a strut brace for better stiffness and uprated suspension to tighten up the handling, plus a limited-slip differential to aid traction. Z-Sport trim then adds swanky metallic paint, some tasty 17in BBS alloy wheels, a cherry red soft top and sand-coloured leather seats.

Seeing as you can’t get a coloured hood or the BBS wheels on any other model, you should stand out among other MX-5 owners – assuming one of your chums hasn't bought one of the 300 that will be available.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport review - price, specs and release date

2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport on the road

As you may have already guessed from the purely cosmetic changes we outlined above, the Z-Sport doesn’t drive any differently to the regular Sport Nav. Not that we’re complaining – the car’s featherweight body means that its meager sounding 158bhp is more than enough to put an unfeasibly wide smile on your face.

Sure, plenty of hot hatchbacks can beat the Z-Sport’s 7.3sec 0-62mph time, but it feels quick enough. You’ll love wringing every last horsepower out of the rev-happy engine thanks to its rorty soundtrack, while the short-throw gearbox is a joy to use. Besides, outright speed has never been what the MX-5 is really about; the real magic happens in the corners.

The car’s low weight means it always feels eager to change direction and the precise steering gives you a good idea as to what the front tyres are up to. Then there’s the balance; unlike a front-wheel drive hot hatch, the Z-Sport’s rear-wheel drive layout lets you tighten your line in corners with the accelerator pedal by sliding the rear oh-so-slightly.

Well judged stability control makes sure things never get too out of hand, but if you do want to play the hooligan on a track, you can turn it fully off. Whatever the level of electronic assistance, it’s very hard not to have a jolly good time.

Just bear in mind that while the standard sports suspension might help the Z-Sport resist body roll well, the resulting ride isn’t quite as comfortable as the softer SE-L Nav model. That’s not to say the Z-Sport is a back-breaker – it still deals with the majority of bumps very well for a sports car – it’s just the SE-L Nav soaks up expansion joints and scarred asphalt even better.

2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport review - price, specs and release date

2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport interior

Although these things are entirely subjective, we’d say the sand-coloured leather seats and decorative inserts are an attractive addition to the predominantly black interior. But while it looks luxurious, you still don’t get height or lumbar adjustment for the seats. At least they’re heated to allow al fresco motoring in all seasons.

Other than that, it’s all typical MX-5. The good news is that you get a responsive and easy to use infotainment system, decent enough plastics and a smattering of storage areas. The bad news mainly applies to the vertically gifted; if you’re much over six feet tall you may struggle to get comfortable or even fit in at all with the roof up.

If you’d like more detail, then check out our exceedingly thorough 16-point review for more information on the interior, boot space, reliability and everything else you could possibly want to know. You’ll also find plenty of deals in our New Car Buying section – you could save well over £1000.

Next: 2018 Mazda MX-5 Z-Sport verdict >