Mazda MX-5 roadster - Interior & comfort
The MX-5 doesn’t get Mazda’s latest-generation interior tech and is starting to feel outdated
As with previous Mazda MX-5s, the driving position of the present model leaves you in no doubt you’re at the wheel of a dedicated sports car. You sit low down, with the pedals spaced close together at your feet and the gearstick at just the right level for your left hand. All this leaves you feeling snug and cocooned, in keeping with the Mazda MX-5 philosophy of making the driver feel at one with the car.
Taller drivers may find the MX-5 too small – those over six feet tall are likely to find the roof too low and the position of the steering wheel uncomfortable. Mazda updated the car in 2018 and added in-and-out adjustment for the steering wheel (it previously only adjusted for height), which should help a wider range of drivers find a comfortable driving position. It remains particularly worth test-driving the car before buying one if you're very tall.
Mazda MX-5 dashboard
Interior quality was a bit of a sticking point in previous generations of MX-5. The dashboard and other cabin fixtures were reasonably solid, but they were made of plastics that felt a bit dull and cheap compared to what was on offer in some rivals. The latest version has raised the game in this area considerably, though, with classier-looking materials used for most of the parts that you see and feel on a regular basis. There are still some lower-quality materials in evidence lower down in the cabin, though.
We’d like Mazda to fit the same infotainment system you get in the Mazda3 and Mazda CX-5, but the MX-5 still features the last-generation touchscreen that’s not quite so user-friendly or crisp. The rotary dial is very handy, because it allows you to control the screen without taking your eyes off the road for long periods of time – once you’ve remembered the position of the buttons, that is. With wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the latest version, however, we expect most owners will rely on these interfaces instead of Mazda’s.
There are three trim levels to pick from, with even the entry-level Prime-Line (previously SE-L) coming well-equipped. As standard it comes with black 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, heated cloth seats, electrically heated and folding door mirrors, climate control, cruise control, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat nav and LED headlights. Pre-2020 models in an entry-level spec only get a basic radio, so if you’re buying a used example it’s worth hunting out a version equipped with a touchscreen to enjoy the extra connectivity features.
When fitted with the 1.5-litre engine, the MX-5 Exclusive-Line trim benefits from rear parking sensors, silver alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a Bose stereo upgrade with nine speakers, keyless entry and added safety features. With the 2.0-litre engine, the Exclusive-Line spec increases to include a reversing camera, adaptive LED headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels. Go for the manual and you also get firmer Bilstein suspension dampers and a limited-slip differential.
There’s also a limited edition Kizuna model, first introduced in spring 2023 and based on the 1.5-litre Exclusive-Line trim. Limited to just 250 examples in total, 170 Kizuna cars will be finished in Machine Grey, with the remaining 80 getting a Deep Crystal Blue paint scheme. On top of Exclusive-Line specification, these cars get 16-inch alloy wheels and a premium blue fabric hood, plus a Nappa leather interior finished in Light Stone.
The range-topping Homura trim (previously called GT Sport Tech) adds grey metallic BBS alloy wheels, black mirror caps and a Light Stone Nappa leather interior finished in light grey with contrasting stitching, which also extends to the door cards. It’s also fitted with red front Brembo brake calipers, taken from the 30th anniversary model first launched in 2019.
The main difference in specification on RF models is that retractable hard-top. It only takes 13 seconds to stow away and makes the car look striking, both when it’s in place and hidden away. It’s totally automatic, unlike the soft-top, which has to be unlatched from the windscreen header rail before you fold it away – and can be raised or lowered when the car is moving at up to 6mph.
For now, there aren’t many options to choose from except for a range of metallic or pearlescent paint choices, including a new shade called Zircon Sand that was introduced with the revised trim levels in late 2022.
You can also add Premium Connected Services for the sat nav, which includes information on live traffic and weather, and even extends to fuel prices and local search. It’s free for 60 days, after which you need to pay for a one- or three-year subscription.
The optional six-speed automatic gearbox can’t be specified on the standard MX-5, but is available as a £1,300 option on the MX-5 RF in Exclusive-Line and Homura trim levels. It’s not a box we’d tick if we were configuring our perfect MX-5, though, as it makes it more expensive to run and less enjoyable to drive. Instead, we’d recommend the sports exhaust system, which costs just under £1,000 and makes the engine sound far more exciting, especially with the roof down. Lower suspension springs are also offered for around £500 to improve handling without too much of a negative effect on ride quality.