★★★★ Mazda MX5 | Say Hello to the only car you’ll ever need.
We had a customer come in recently with a car that had died due to a lack of oil pressure. To put it right would have cost a fair bit of money. She said that she had always wanted a Mazda MX5 and I replied to her “You’re a long time dead, go treat yourself” So she did. Next thing I knew she was pulling into the workshop with a 5-year-old MX5.
Had I known that Mazda were due to relaunch the next generation MX5 I would have told her to save her money and buy the new one. It’s rather good. And that’s it. This review is over. However, the editor wants more words said about the subject of this test so I am forced to rattle on with some extra words.
There are two responses you get when you mention an MX5. From those who have never driven any of the four generations of car saying they are just cars for the hairdresser and those who have had one who can enthuse about it until they really bore you so much you actually want to slam your fingers in a door. Here in its fourth incarnation it has become even more of a driver’s car with an appeal for everyone. Even grown-ups with a child are catered for with the passenger’s seat coming with ISO fixings for the baby seat. If you want a sports car, have a baby and are single, Mazda have catered for you. The church, on the other hand, may frown at you but what the hell, you have a removable roof that makes you closer to God.
Opening the roof is like opening a can of Pepsi and just as quick. It takes literally seconds to fold the snug roof down as it is to put up. So simple in its operation that I do wonder why I see so many MX5’s with their roofs up? It’s almost draft free too. On the model I tested there was an occasional whistle around the door window but this is the price you pay for a car with no roof. That roof can also take one battering from the rain. One bad down pour experienced with the car revealed no weakness in keeping the water out.
Speaking of wonders I liked the kit you get with it. You couldn’t call it palatial but Mazda has created a car that gets back to the basics of what makes a good sports car.
The everything at finger-tip reach cockpit comes with hip hugging heated seat, power windows, mirrors and air conditioning. It also comprises a DAB stereo and CD player pumping out the sounds through a Bose speaker system.
The heads up display for sat nav, stereo and car information is controlled by a single wheel knob with a few buttons placed around it on the transmission tunnel and in its operation it works well, though why it needs another volume control here when there is one on the steering wheel was beyond me. One annoyance I had with this was that there was no mute button on the wheel. A more logical place for it to be.
On the road is where the MX5 wins you over again and again. With the 1500cc engine and weighing in a little more over the 1989 original, it proved to be sensational. 0-60 comes up in 8.3 seconds and taking it to 7000rpm enables you to get the best from the smooth as silk revving engine. The power mutes itself at the 7500rpm redline where there is no noise and no fuss. A quick change up and it’s pulling away again. Keep the engine above 4000rpm and it’s entertaining all the way until you reach 6th gear and then it cruises along. On the motorway, it was almost always necessary to drop it down 2 gears to get the best overtaking performance. Sixth gear is long legged. And this is where the MX5 again makes you wonder why all cars are not like this. It’s relaxing to drive around town. The exhaust is muffled except for a little rasp that excites the senses and yet when you need the power it’s there just a few gears down.
What makes the MX5 a hoot to drive was its lazy traction control. Playing with it for fun it wouldn’t get too messy though it did allow for some tail happy sliding that makes you feel alive or will wake you up on the morning commute should the coffee fail you. Nine out of ten times you would have backed off before the car would have sorted you out. Turn it off and your senses are woken to full adrenaline shots coming at you from every gland around your body. Everything talks to you demanding inputs here there and everywhere. And then when you have to be normal again, the car behaves like a shopping shuttle. Its suspension is a tad too soft in places. Hard acceleration forces the light beams to illuminate the sky when the back bites in. That said, make it too hard and the car looses its everyday attraction. Not once during my testing did I wish for another car. The ride around town being compliant and there was no back breaking jolts experienced over speed bumps or small pot holes. If you have to have just one car in your fleet then make it the MX5.
Taking a look at the rest of the MX5 range I would say you are doing an injustice to yourself if you opt for the 2000cc engine. Apart from being a second quicker to 60mph, the rest of the performance figures aren’t really anything to write home about. You do get a little more grunt in power but I doubt it’ll give you the same joyous feeling the 1500 gives. It also won’t rev to beyond 7000rpm. And for its greater power you pay dearly at the fuel pumps too.
I wouldn’t call them problems but things I didn’t like about the much-acclaimed MX5 was the use of carbon fibre type trim on the doors. I do dislike this material and it was out of place on this model. I also don’t like the bonnet badge. Its overstated nature is overbearing for the beautifully sculpted front.
Ease of roof
Smiles per mile
Carbon fibre trim
Car – Mazda MX5 1.5i Sport Nav
Price – £23,105
MPG – 47.1mpg (combined)
Power – 131bhp at 7000rpm
0-62mph – 8.3 seconds
Top Speed – 127mph
Co2 – 139 (g/km)