By Jack Evans

The Mazda MX-5 has always embodied the spirit of a light, nimble and user-friendly sports car.

This new fourth generation features low-emission engines, good levels of kit as standard and a competitive price.

But can it live up to its legendary badge? We find out.

What is it?

This is the latest edition of Mazda's iconic two-seater sports car, and the final model in their range to be endowed with the firm's fuel efficient SkyActiv engine technology.

The MX-5 is recognised as the world's best selling roadster and this fourth generation looks to extend that title and keep the same characteristics that has made the car famous.

Although some traditional MX-5 design cues are carried over, this is a completely new car with a wider stance and exaggerated curves and lines to make it look more masculine than its predecessors.

What’s it like to drive?

Very good. The suspension setup isn’t the firmest, but that means the ride is supple over bumps and potholes. However, this does mean that the MX-5 suffers from a bit of body roll, though not enough to make it wallowy and imprecise. Far from it, the MX-5 has pin-point handling with a good amount of feedback, meaning that you can place it where you want it into the corners.

Grip levels are good, and when hurried along, the little Mazda reacts with a shimmy that reminds you that it really is a rear-wheel drive sports car. Tip it into a corner and the rear end won’t step out aggressively, but just slip ever so slightly. Turn off the traction control and this happens to a larger extent.

The 2.0-litre engine provides enough power for overtaking, and has enough mid-range shove to easily keep up with motorway traffic. The low bodyweight contributes to an energetic drive, with a low ride height meaning that often the excitement of high speeds can be had at relatively low ones.

What’s it like inside

Cabin quality is very good. The materials feel quality to the touch and the fit and finish is generally good. The sun visors spoil the view – they’re flimsy and not well made, and the handbrake lever appears to be engaged even when fully depressed.

This model came with a full satellite navigation and media system, all displayed on a 7” touch screen mounted in the centre of the dashboard. The positioning of this is good, as it allows quick checks of the screen without being too distracting.

Leather-covered seats feature heating throughout and offer a good level of comfort with enough bolstering either side to keep you feeling supported. The premium Bose stereo is an option well worth having, as even at high speeds with the roof down it gives a loud, clear sound.

Is it practical?

We’ve got to remember that this is a two-seater sports car, so practicality was never going to be top of the list. That said, you do get two cup holders just above the arm rest and a cubby just above, though this is just about taken up with the owner’s manual. In either door is a small pocket, though only just about big enough for a phone. The boot is a decent size though, and is deep enough to get a week’s shopping in. Golf clubs are going to be a bit of a push, however.

Should I buy one?

In a word, yes. Mazda has pulled off the magic trick once more by creating a fun, involving and (relatively) quick little affordable sports car. Sure, it may not have the out-and-out pace of some of its larger rivals, but the MX-5 isn’t about that. For sheer unadulterated fun, the little Mazda is a bit of a bargain at under £24,000 for the top-spec model. With the right spec and in the right colour, the MX-5 is a purchase you shouldn’t think twice about.

The facts

Model: Mazda MX-5 2.0-litre Sport Nav
Price: £23,295
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Power: 159bhp, 200 Nm
Max speed: 133mph
0-62mph: 7.3s
MPG: 40.9 (comb'd)
Emissions: 161g/km CO2

Jack Evans


After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.

December 14, 2015

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