Mazda MX-5 Review

Gumtree Rating

4.5 rating

Inspired by the British lightweight motorsports of the ’60s and ’70s, Japanese carmaker Mazda unveiled the MX-5 in 1989. It quickly became the world’s fastest-selling sports car, and for good reason: it achieves the fine balance needed for a sports car to also perform everyday tasks with ease. In fact, the Mazda MX-5 can take credit for truly opening the convertible sports car category for the UK’s motor enthusiasts. Four generations in, this rear-wheel-drive two-seater stays true to its roots with every iteration. Rest assured that the incredibly reliable Mazda MX-5 will remain a constant companion to the petrolhead, bringing loads of fun on every road trip.

Visit the Mazda MX-5 model page to explore available specs and learn more.

What we think about the Mazda MX-5

Light, small and affordable, the Mazda MX-5 brings simple pleasures in a thrill-inducing and stunningly stylish package.

Pros

+

Genuine fun

+

Incredible reliability

+

Great value for money

Cons

Two-seater only

Limited adjustment with the driving position

Limited storage space

The first-gen model followed the textbook design principles of a classic roadster. On the second generation from 1999, the noticeably curvier design was accompanied by an improved engine line up. The 2003 model followed the same style cues as the previous generation, adding in a hard top variant. We’re focusing here on the current generation, which hit UK roads in 2015. Plenty of trim levels on every generation make the MX-5 easy to customise. The latest entry-level SE trim includes perks like LED headlights, while the top line GT-S trim introduced in 2019 adds a limited-slip differential and Bilstein shock absorbers for enhanced sports performance.

Driving performance of the Mazda Mx 5

Our Driving Rating9 / 10

Whether you’re a serial MX-5 owner or you’re just dipping your toes into sports car ownership, there’s no model of this Mazda that will disappoint in terms of driving thrills. This roadster is built to be light and nippy, giving you incredible agility around corners and pure fun on motorways. Performance on the latest generation is incredibly strong, given that it drops 100 kilos on the model it replaces. As with every roadster, remember that going with sports trims will mean a compromise on comfort when you go over the bumps, but it’s well worth the minor adjustments.

Safety and reliability of the Mazda Mx 5

Our Safety Rating8 / 10

The MX-5 was last tested by Euro NCAP in 2015, when it received a commendable four-star safety rating. A raised bonnet, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert make the fourth-generation Mazda quite safe on the roads. On the third generation, an anti-lock braking system which prevents skidding on wet or gravel roads, airbags and anti-vandal alarms are included as standard. Of course, you won’t be able to expect modern safety equipment on the 1989 release. On pre-2009 Euro NCAP tests, when the standards were lower, the Mazda scored four stars, meaning that it was well-equipped for the time.

Under the bonnet of the Mazda Mx 5

Our Engine Rating8 / 10

Through the years, the MX-5 has been made available in 1.5-litre, 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines. The range-topping 2.0-litre engine from the latest gen goes from 0 to 62 mph in a whopping 6.5 seconds. But the 1.5-litre is by no means sluggish, only slowing down to 8.7 seconds. The 1.8-litre engine, only available in the 2005 generation, does 0 to 60 mph at a comparable 9.8 seconds. No matter what goes under the bonnet, you’ll find that the Mazda MX-5 is a sprightly beast that’s full of thrills.

What you'll find in the Mazda Mx 5

Our Design Rating9 / 10

Design elements of the previous generations amp up the fun-size styling of hot hatches. Note that they are only available in soft-top variants, which is convenient for the unpredictable British weather – it’s quick and simple to put the roof up when it starts to rain. On the latest generation, it’s all about modish angular lines and edges. A large grille and narrow headlights give it a more aggressive appeal compared to previous generations. If you’re sceptical about purchasing the hard-top variants available from the 2003 model onwards, note that it only takes 13 seconds for the roof to go up, and it’s quite a spectacle to watch.

Comfort and interiors in the Mazda Mx 5

Our Comfort Rating7 / 10

As with any other two-seater, the Mazda isn’t built for comfort or practicality. Given that it’s an economical purchase, you’ll not find the soft plastics that German roadsters can boast of. But on all generations, one thing is clear – Mazda has taken cabin detailing very seriously, and everything on the dash is neatly placed and easy to reach for. On the latest gen, the driver-side seat is tilt-adjustable and the higher driving position makes for a better view. That said, going with older generation models will get you more boot space.

Mazda MX-5 interior front

What features you'll find in the Mazda Mx 5

Our Features Rating8 / 10

The entry-level SE trim on the latest generation is equipped with manual air conditioning, an AM/FM radio with USB connectivity, LED headlights, heated door mirrors and remote keyless entry. This is comparable to what you’d get on top specs in the older generations as well. Higher trims on the latest generation come with a 7.0-inch screen equipped with the MZD Connect infotainment system. The top-spec Sport NAV trim brings you 17-inch alloys, leather heated seats and a Bose nine-speaker sound system. All in all, you won’t necessarily get the best in class here when it comes to creature comforts, but the MX-5 won’t fail to keep you entertained.

What fuel efficiency to expect from the Mazda Mx 5

Our Fuel Consumption Rating7 / 10

Despite having only naturally aspirated engines, the MX-5 offers impressive fuel returns that are comparable to that of a petrol hot hatch. The 1.5-litre engine delivers 47.1 mpg, while the 2.0-litre engines bring in 40.9 mpg. The fuel efficiency on the third-generation Mazda falls between 34 and 40 mpg, but those numbers were achieved under much less rigorous tests. If you go with older models, you won’t be able to expect such high numbers unless it’s a really well-maintained example. A good look into the service records is a must when purchasing any roadster, so take the time to be thorough.

Running costs of the Mazda Mx 5

Our Cost Rating8 / 10

On the latest generation, emissions stand at 139 g/km for all models, and the MX-5 falls between insurance groups 25 and 29. Mazda offers a standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty on the MX-5, although it can be extended. Older models are less eco-friendly – the third-generation model emits 184 g/km – so you can expect the insurance premiums to be higher. On a more positive note, Mazda’s servicing costs are quite reasonable, making this an affordable purchase in the long run.

Our verdict of the Mazda Mx 5

4.5 rating

4.5 / 5 Gumtree rating

Combing good looks and thrill-inducing speeds with Mazda's reputation for reliability, the MX-5 is the quintessential roadster for the daily hustle.