Mazda MX-5 (2015) Review
Mazda MX-5 (2015) At A Glance
The Mazda MX-5 is the best affordable sports car in the world. If you’re in the fortunate position to justify having a two-seat roadster in your life, we can’t think of many reasons why you shouldn’t buy one. In the real world, it’s as fun as an exotic sports car costing 10 times the price, with an ability to put a smile on your face on any road and at any speed. Launched in 2015, the Mazda MX-5 doesn’t have any direct rivals, although Fiat tried its hand with the 124 Spider.
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Classic roadster performance in a thoroughly modern package. The Mazda MX-5 is not only the best junior sports car you can buy, it’s also good enough to rival cars costing far more. In fact, the MX-5 makes more sense, as you can experience more of its brilliance, more of the time.
Launched in 2015, this fourth-generation model is arguably the best since the original of 1990. Mazda has somehow managed to combine the feel of a 1960s roadster with the convenience and safety of a modern car. It’s little wonder other carmakers have given up trying to compete. The closest rival is the discontinued Fiat 124 Spider, a car that was based on the MX-5 and built at the same factory in Japan.
There are two versions: a standard roadster and an RF model. In the case of the latter, RF stands for Retractable Fastback. In theory, this should provide the best of both worlds. Open-top thrills when you demand them, but coupe-like convenience when you don’t. Unfortunately, the RF version is heavier and more expensive than the standard MX-5, while the wind noise with the roof open is a constant irritant. Our advice: stick with the classic recipe.
It’s sensational to drive. The way it snicks between gears as the revs rise will leave a lasting impression. It’s a car that positively thrives on being pushed to the limit, which is something you’ll want to do, time and time again. The driving position is spot on, the steering is bristling with feel and the cornering is breathtakingly sharp and accurate. If you love driving, you’ll adore the MX-5.
Then there’s the choice of engines. In the past, we’d have chosen the willing 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G unit, which is surprisingly rapid and as playful as a terrier. However, following the upgrade in 2019, the 2.0-litre engine is the one to go for. With 184PS at your disposal, you feel like you’re at the wheel of a race car. It’s a modern classic.
It gets better, because the ride quality is soft and compliant, especially on smaller wheels, while the cabin is a delightful place to be, regardless of whether you’re on a long journey or popping out for yet another pint of milk. Even the entry-level version comes with the kind of creature comforts you’d expect in a premium car, including heated seats for those winter drives in the country.
As you’d expect, practicality isn’t a strong point. You can forgive the small boot, but the lack of storage options in the cabin is a little poor. You don’t even get a glovebox or door pockets. You’ll just have to get used to travelling light.
Which means the MX-5 is best suited to young people or anyone looking for a second car. It offers all the benefits of a classic British roadster, with the reliability, comfort and convenience of a modern Mazda.