Since 1989, Japanese car manufacturer Mazda have been at the forefront of the market when it comes to small, two seater cars which in general have small engines, a lack of roof and the Mazda Miata, Eunos Roadster (depending on what part of the world you are in) or as we know it the Mazda MX-5 has been a favorite to many for decades.
Since inception, the MX-5 is now into its fourth generation and as such I guess you could call this MX-5 tested a mk4 model and during the years between 1989 and today there have been far too many editions, special editions and sports editions to list but one thing is for sure, they are all loved and driven with a passionate smile.
Outside, the all new MX-5 is very new edge looking and a huge change from the outgoing model being a lot more sleek and stylish than ever before. This model tested is finished in a stunning pearl white paint (a reasonable £540 option) and in the sunlight glimmers like coral in the Caribbean.
The general silhouette of the MX-5 most certainly roots back to its brothers and sisters, rather low slung as expected but the girth is greater with much more purposeful looking arches and with only 16” wheels on this model, wrapped in sticky Yokohama Advan tyres, you know that it is a car which wants to be driven.
The extremely slim LED headlights give a very menacing look up front whilst the rear lights somewhat resemble that of the Jaguar F-Type, this is no bad thing of course. Walking around I really must admit that this new MX-5 really is a fantastic looking car, aided by the front and side sill lower aero.
On opening the boot, the load space is restricted compared to the first generation cars with a much smaller entry area into the boot. The boot itself is a little shallower than I recall on older models, none the less though, a pair of helmets and a jerrycan will fit with ease or a small weekend bag for two which to me is all this car needs to be able to lug around.
With key-less entry on this Sport Nav model, getting inside was effortless and revealed a cramped cabin which can be expected with such a car, however; a cabin that was a nice finish and the black leather sports seats were accentuated perfectly with red stitching.
These heated seats, I am pretty sure are the most comfortable seats I have sat in to date this year and the driving position within the MX-5 I found to be perfect with a lovely steering wheel to boot. There are two cup holders in an awkward place that my elbow fell out with several times, one of which could be moved to the passenger side of the centre dash console, in which position it then fouled the passenger’s legs terribly.
The cup holders to me were a bit of an afterthought from Mazda and after they designed the inside they forgot to allow room for storage areas as there was a lack of places to put personal belongings. In saying this though, being a soft top, it is maybe a good thing it doesn’t have too many cubby’s for safety reasons if parked topless.
One thing I really liked about this all new MX-5 is the fact that the roof is fully usable from the driver’s seat which I know for a fact the first generation was incapable of. A simple locking mechanism keeps the roof in place when folded down and at the flick of a lever releases this lock easily and from the driving position the roof can be lifted and locked into closed position in no time.
Infotainment is in abundance with a drive wheel beside the handbrake controlling everything that is seen via the screen in the centre of the dash, personally this drive wheel is far too close to the driver and being ambidextrous would certainly help in its usage, so in this particular car a simple touch screen would have made my experience better.
Whilst on a moan, there is a CD slot, which these days is a very rare commodity i will admit, but it too is placed in a daft place between the two seats meaning CD’s can only be changed when stationary while at a strange angle in the seat to reach and do so. But enough personal opinion and back to the infotainment itself.
Sat Nav, Bluetooth, DAB Radio and USB input are all part of the package with the Sport Nav model and in general the system is easy to navigate around with text messages readable directly via the screen which gives you no reason to be handling the phone whilst driving.
Sound wise this car has a fantastic BOSE audio 9 speaker system which includes a pair of speakers built into the driver and passenger seats and I must admit, the quality of the BOSE system is, as expected, phenomenal. I recall commending the audio in the Mazda CX-3 and this system is equally as impressive.
Engine wise there are two options available in the new MX-5, 1500cc and 2000cc. This model we tested is equipped with the smaller of the two and produces around 130bhp with 110lb/ft of torque which isn’t record breaking by any means however the engine sits so far back from the front of the car it really aids the dynamics of the car.
Power is put to the ground via a six speed gearbox to the rear wheels and with Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology will happily return mid forties mpg all day and night. Even when getting some abuse I struggled to see anything less than forty mpg over a week and a few hundred miles of very mixed driving.
Speaking of abuse, this little roadster is as happy cruising about town at 30mph in sixth gear with little rev’s on the clock as it is screaming its lungs out in desperation of another gear at the top end of the rev counter and when driven in the latter fashion I feel the 1500cc provides just the perfect balance for the chassis.
The MX-5 chassis is simply superb, it handles impeccably yet isn’t too stiff to make the experience dis-pleasurable and matched with the 1500cc engine I feel is in perfect harmony as the engine is a little lighter than the 2000cc unit and with the lesser power means you can drive this MX-5 at ten tenths without the fear if it wanting to kill you.
I am maybe premature in my judgement without a test drive in the larger engine car, but I do honestly believe that the drive wouldn’t be as fun. The car to me would then become too fast to really put that smile on your face that MX-5’s are known for. To me they are small cars with small engines and a big heart!
These cars are all about drive-ability and that “roof down, revs up” mentality and the sheer enjoyment of the 1500cc engine on this chassis really is a winner in my eyes, so in that respect, well done Mazda, this wee car made me smile I know that for sure.
On longer runs, cruise control was an invaluable part of equipment and lane departure warning system was in place also on this model which went from 0-60mph in a time of 8.3 seconds with a top speed of 127mph. The MX-5’s handling was very predictable while the steering was incredibly precise with over steer easily controlled.
Mazda provide a 3year/60,000 mile warranty with servicing intervals at 12,500miles/12 months which is reasonable and with pricing for the Sport Nav spec models starting at just shy of £22,500 OTR and options very affordable, this little car certainly has big heart and it was a rewarding and memorable review.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry