Motoring and Property Editor
2:00 AM 30th July 2022
Mazda MX-5 On Test – Still As Good As Ever
When the much-loved MGB Roadster was finally laid to rest in 1980, many feared that we would not see its like again. Mazda had other ideas and in 1989 launched the MX-5. Far from being innovative, the MX-5 took an established concept and updated it, with the added bonus of Japanese reliability and build quality thrown in for good measure.
In the flesh, the new MX-5 still looks good, sitting as it does on a footprint almost identical to the original.
It was perhaps a gamble on Mazda’s part, but it soon found out that demand still existed for an affordable two-seat sports car that was fun to drive. It also dramatically increased the profile of the company and even today the MX-5 casts a halo over the now extensive range of Mazda cars.
With over one million world-wide sales to date, the MX-5 is also a Guinness record breaker, holding the title of the world’s best-selling roadster.
The fourth-generation model has been on sale for quite a few years now in both convertible and retractable fastback forms. The chance to reacquaint myself was readily accepted.
An interesting fact is just how affordable the MX-5 is and always has been. Back in 1990, the Mk1 cost a reasonable £14,249 and yet 32 years later, the latest car costs from just £25,725.
In the flesh, the new MX-5 still looks good, sitting as it does on a footprint almost identical to the original. Popular Mazda colour Soul Red Metallic especially suits the roadster and would be my choice. My test car however looked rather swish in Polymetal Grey.
It may lack the power of the new car, but all the same attributes are there in abundance – great handling, slick gearbox, easy to fold roof
The diminutive 1.5-litre engine has a modest power output of 132PS and remains an efficient and economical choice. For many it will be ideal.
Of more interest to the spirited driver, a category into which I most definitely fall, is the more powerful 2.0-litre engine, fitted to my car.
With 184PS available to be unleashed, the MX-5’s 0-62mph is just 6.5 seconds. This more powerful motor can also now be redlined at a heady 7,500rpm, though in truth things get somewhat raucous if driven thus. Better to enjoy the 205Nm of torque and make good use of the slick six-speed manual gearbox.
Inevitably if you use the power to the full, and why wouldn’t you if you’ve just bought an engaging sports car, you may not achieve the 40.9mpg Mazda quotes for the combined cycle. I wasn’t that far removed with 39.1mpg showing on the trip computer after some 400 or so miles behind the wheel.
I have always loved convertible cars, so the majority of my time spent with the MX-5 saw the roof lowered. Folding it is a simple one-handed job and can be accomplished from the driver’s seat, so no excuses for not making the most of any fine weather. The heated seats are suitably powerful, as is the heater, though there is a bit of a back draft when travelling at motorway speeds.
MX-5 models with the 184PS 2.0-litre engine come equipped with a front strut brace, limited slip differential and Bilstein dampers. These additions help maintain the MX-5’s composed ride but inspire confidence in the bends due to a lack of body roll.
New for this year is the fitment of Kinematic Posture Control to all models, designed to increase stability in corners. A small amount of brake force is applied to the inner/unloaded rear wheel which further supresses lean in the corners. It works well in practice.
The low-slung sporty driving position, comfortable and cosy cabin and generally excellent road manners will also delight. Powerful, fade-free brakes do a sterling job too as does the raft of standard-fit safety equipment.
I challenge anyone looking for a fun sports car not to be seduced by the MX-5’s considerable charms. Be in no doubt, the MX-5 is a very fine driver’s car, and the more powerful engine will be appreciated by the keener driver.
I was lucky enough to own a 1991 MX-5 for many years and three years ago purchased a Mk 2 model for a modest sum. It may lack the power of the new car, but all the same attributes are there in abundance – great handling, slick gearbox, easy to fold roof.
The new model is more comfortable without a doubt and much quicker point to point. It also has powerful air conditioning should the summer heat become a tad overpowering. Then there’s the excellent Bose sound system with nine speakers. So, maybe it’s time to consider an upgrade.
Mazda MX-5 GT Sport Tech
184PS 2.0-litre engine
205Nm torque at 4000rpm
0-62mph in 6.5 seconds
Top speed 136mph
Combined economy 40.9mpg
Emissions 155g/km CO2
Insurance group 33A