Why we love the Mazda MX-5

PUBLISHED: 13:19 20 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:19 20 February 2016

Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

Archant

Whichever of the two engines you choose, the best affordable sports car you can buy is even better value now

Mazda’s latest and possibly greatest MX-5 was 2015’s star car for me. It’s the fourth generation of the Japanese brand’s flag waver and nods to both Mazda’s past and future.

For the original MX-5 rescued the company 25 years ago and the latest version showcases Mazda’s brilliant Skyactiv technology: tuning driver enjoyment, boosting power to weight ratio, and slashing consumption and emissions.

This has allowed the new Mk 4 MX-5 to echo the scale, weight and pleasure of the legendary Mk 1, retaining that front engine/rear-driven balance, yet carrying the best tech and safety demanded by consumers and legislation. More aggressive styling makes it look bigger in pictures, causing a quick mental re-calibration when viewed in the metal.

While you feel snug in the cockpit – a visual trick enhanced by door cappings that curve in towards the facia and the immaculately arranged dashboard – the car is as spacious as previous generations. These were all comfy enough for a long-distance business trip, let alone sporty expeditions or weekends away.

As ever, the properly watertight soft top can be raised and lowered manually in seconds, and with even greater ease; flick a clip and flip it back, or vice versa.

The big question for buyers is: a 130bhp 1.5-litre or 159bhp 2.0-litre engine? The former is the essence of the original MX-5, while the latter is by far the most performance-oriented MX-5 to date.

For the money (from £18,495), the 1.5 as tested here is undoubtedly the best, with its sheer affordability echoing the original MX-5 ethos: a British-style sports car that’s cheap to buy, but comes with bulletproof reliability and a user-friendly hood that doesn’t leak. The 1.5 engine itself is already familiar in the Mazda range: it is free-revving and punchy, propelling the lightly loaded Mk4 MX-5 to 0-62mph in a highly respectable 8.3 seconds.

A close-ratio six-speed manual ‘box comes as standard across the MX-5 line-up, and its slick-shifting style upholds a proud tradition.

Mazda’s marketing spiel bangs on about an analogy between car and driver and horse and rider, but you can forgive it when considering the MX-5.

This is a car to harmonise with, its nicely judged steering and balanced chassis constantly feeding back as you swoop along a clear, winding road.

If you are willing to pay more for such pleasure then the 160bhp 2.0-litre (from £20,095) beckons, with its beefed-up rear suspension and a 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds.

It adds £1,600 to the price of an equivalent 1.5 and raises running costs, but it’s a terrific car too, further rebutting the ‘hairdresser’s car’ nonsense spouted about the MX-5 over the years.

But how’s this for an independent word on the MX-5’s standing in the sports car world? An experienced driver, MX-5 owner and friend told me how delighted he was to borrow a Ferrari after calling in a favour, but added: “It was lovely, but after a driving for a while, I thought about its foibles, the silly money tied up in it, the envy/jealousy factor and so on, and then I saw an MX-5 approaching… 
I realised I’d rather be driving that.”

Praise indeed.

Mazda MX-5

Price from: £18,495

Model featured: 1.5i SE-L Nav £19,845

Power: 130bhp and 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds

Engine: 1,496cc four-cylinder petrol

Fuel consumption: 47.1mpg combined cycle

Road tax: £130/year

Best rival: Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ

w

More from Motoring

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It turns out there’s a lot you can do in van business. We talk to those who have pushed the boundaries when it comes to working on the road.

Read more
Monday, March 16, 2020

Jet Wheel Tyre offers some invaluable advice on tyres and ensuring your car remains road worthy

Read more
Friday, March 6, 2020

Ray Chapman Motors officially unveiled their new York dealership, at York Business Park, Poppleton.

Read more
Friday, February 28, 2020

One of the best ways to experience the raw beauty of Surrey is by car: roof down, picnic hamper on the back seat, taking a leisurely drive through the undulating countryside. Here, drivers from The Supercar Event give us a run-down of the very best Surrey has to offer

Read more

A Ribble Valley company’s leather booster seats are ensuring young passengers can travel in luxurious style

Read more
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

It can be hard to imagine your little one growing up, but it won’t be long until they’re asking to borrow your car keys. Sue Waterfield from Young Driver, the UK’s largest driving school for 10–17-year-olds, explains how early driving tuition can set the foundations for a safer, more confident next generation.

Read more
Friday, January 24, 2020

In built-up places like Brighton, there is very little advantage to purchasing a brand new car. With so few uncongested roads in the south of England – and many other parts of the British Isles, for that matter – a brand new car won’t get you where you are going any faster. Nor will it be any easier to find a car parking space on the road you live on. However, second-hand cars are better in a number of ways. If you are considering buying a car in the near future, why would you opt for a used one rather than a model that has just rolled off the production line?

Read more
Monday, January 13, 2020

Lamborghini has opened a new showroom in Leeds bringing these lust-after motors to Yorkshire. Kathryn Armstrong joined them on a tour of the county’s finest routes.

Read more
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Millions of motorists are convicted of offences every year – but are they all guilty? An expert in motoring law has successfully defended many cases for clients who suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Read more
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Trying out some classic cars as part of Goodwood’s Revival Racing Experience

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life