Used Mazda MX-5 long-term test: report 1

The Mazda MX-5 is a firm favourite with those wanting fun in the sun, but what’s a used one like as your only car? We have four months to find out...

Used Mazda MX-5 long-term static water tank

The car 2019 Mazda MX-5 2.0 184ps GT Sport Nav+   
Run by 
Max Adams, Used cars reporter
Why it’s here To find out if a two-seater sports car is a help or hindrance in everyday life.
Needs to Provide maximum smiles-per-mile without breaking the bank.

Mileage 1440 List price new (2019) £26,095 Price new with options £26,885 Value now £21,159 Options fitted metallic paint £790 Test economy 38.7mpg Official economy 40.9mpg (WLTP) 

31 July 2020 - the used Mazda MX-5 joins our fleet

There’s plenty to be sad about these days. Not only are we having to shield ourselves away from one another to protect humanity from a potentially deadly virus; but all this dry weather we’ve been enjoying is going to lead to water disruption, or at least it is according to a text message I’ve just received from my water provider.

Used Mazda MX-5 long-term rear 3/4 cornering

However, I’m smiling because I’ve got a lovely Mazda MX-5 to enjoy for the summer. It’s also why I’m looking into repurposing old water tanks like the one behind me – although the resulting photo looks like a rejected ‘90s Britpop album cover.  

Anyway, I’m supposed to be introducing my MX-5, and, as it turns out, it’s fortuitous that I’ve gone for a used one. The model line up for this cute two-seater has recently been altered and prices have increased. The top-of-the-line GT Sport Nav+ I’ve gone for used to cost £26,095, but the equivalent spec car today is the Sport Tech that comes in at £28,405, so already, I’m up on the deal. 

My car arrived with a measly 690 miles on the clock and is worth £21,159 according to our valuation tool, and I've seen others for sale for similar money. I even spotted one in deepest Wales, and while it would be a bit of a trek to get to, for this kind of saving, the drive back across some of the best roads in the UK would be well worth it, especially in this weather. 

Used Mazda MX-5 long-term blurred hood in action

And I plan to make the most of this dry spell over the coming four months by having my roof down as often as possible. This is why I’ve gone for the regular soft-top version, rather than the Mazda MX-5 RF and its folding metal roof. While that model might be more refined with the roof up, it takes an age to fold away or to erect, and the soft-top doesn't give rise to the blind spot that afflicts over-the-shoulder vision in the RF. While this trim level of MX-5 has blind-spot monitoring, it’s nice to be able to glance over and see without a doubt that there’s nothing alongside you.

And there shouldn’t be anyone hanging around alongside me, because the 181bhp 2.0-litre engine makes short work of zipping this featherweight car along. That might not seem like a lot of power in the light that many small hot-hatches put out plenty more than 200bhp, but it’s enough for a 0-62mph time of 6.5secs, or nearly two seconds faster than the less potent 1.5-litre-engined MX-5.

Another reason for going for the 2.0-litre over the 1.5 is that you get added niceties such as uprated Bilstein dampers that quell the smaller-engined car’s tendency to lean over in corners, plus a limited-slip rear differential that gives you much better traction out of bends by preventing the inside wheel spinning all the power away. It also means you get a bit of tyre squeal when exiting junctions, and that's always fun.

Used Mazda MX-5 long-term front 3/4 cornering

My high-spec MX-5 gets tonnes of equipment as standard, such as heated leather seats with two little speakers in the head rests (particularly useful with the top down) to supplement the uprated Bose sound system, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, plus a full suite of safety tech such as rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking. But the thing that keeps me feeling safe and happy is the very bright LED headlights; when out and about in the dark, encounters with deer in the road are fairly regular in my neck of the woods.

In fact, the only people that will be sad about my MX-5 are my colleagues, all of whom were putting in requests to borrow it before lockdown hit. Now that we’ve had to limit the number of people sharing cars, they can no longer do so. Never mind, I shall just have to savour it, and the sun, on their behalf.

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