Mazda MX-5 roadster
Price £19,245 - £23,295
- Fun to drive
- Sharp styling
- Everyday usability
- Boot is very small
- Some cheap interior finishes
- No automatic gearbox available
At a glance
“The new Mazda MX-5 keeps the model’s signature traits of superb handling, eager performance, sporty styling and low running costs.”
The Mazda MX-5 has barely put a foot wrong since the original version of this popular two-seater sports car debuted in 1989. It's always stuck to the proven formula of a retractable roof, an affordable purchase price, reasonable running costs, light weight, rear-wheel drive and tremendously entertaining handling.
It has few direct rivals – the similarly fun-to-drive Lotus Elise is a lot more expensive to buy, while more conventional convertibles such as the Volkswagen Golf cabriolet and Audi A3 cabriolet aren’t as entertaining on the road. The similarly priced Toyota GT 86 also promises affordable, rear-wheel-drive fun, but it's only available as a hard-top coupe, not a convertible. MINI recently announced it would be discontinuing the two-seater MINI Roadster, removing another potential alternative to the Mazda.
The Mazda MX-5 is now in its fourth generation and shows no signs of losing the magic that has helped it to sell nearly a million examples worldwide in the quarter of a century that it's been on sale. This latest version is shorter, lower, wider and lighter than its predecessor, offering the same grin-inducing handling and eager performance that MX-5 drivers have come to expect over the years.
It's possibly the most visually attractive MX-5 to date, too, using Mazda's Kodo design language to create something that's instantly recognisable as an MX-5, yet still bang up-to-date. Narrow headlights and tight, swoopy curves make it look very compact and aggressive – and it looks particularly good in brighter colours such as red, which help to highlight its bold lines.
The new Mazda MX-5 will go on sale on August 29. Specification levels include the entry-level SE trim right up to Sport Nav. All models have alloy wheels, LED headlights and a leather steering wheel. Opt for the top-of-the-range Sport Nav and a Bose stereo system, a limited-slip differential and sat nav are thrown in.
We think the new MX-5 shouldn't disappoint either long-term fans or those who are new to sports-car ownership. In fact, it's probably the best two-seater roadster in its class. Our pick would be the 1.5-litre petrol engine in mid-range SE-L trim, but for those wanting a pure roadster experience, the 2.0-litre Sport, with its uprated suspension, limitied slip differential for extra grip and heated seats, makes a compelling option.
SKYACTIV engine technology ensures the new Mazda MX-5 can put a smile on your face without breaking the bank
Light weight means the new MX-5 doesn’t need loads of horsepower to offer a fun and involving driving experience
A hi-tech, high-quality interior largely borrowed from the Mazda3 hatchback makes the new Mazda MX-5 a comfortable and satisfying place to spend time
Practicality was never a Mazda MX-5 strong suit and that hasn’t changed with this latest model
Mazda has a long record of producing dependable and safe cars and the new Mazda MX-5 should be no different