Review: Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015)
Electrically folding hard top version of the MX-5. Just as good to drive as the standard fabric roof model. Top build quality.
Not much room in the cabin. Limited boot space. Starting to show its age.
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015): At A Glance
Mazda’s little MX-5 is popular with British buyers, offering a fun-to-drive sports car at an affordable price. However, with British weather, the folding fabric top of the MX-5 isn’t ideal - hence the introduction of the MX-5 Roadster Coupe in 2006. It combines the best characteristics of the fabric-topped MX-5 with the additional benefit of an electronically folding two-piece metal top.
The character of the car is retained despite some additional weight – buyers gain better weather protection, improved refinement and better security and lose barely anything - which makes the Roadster Coupe even more desirable than the regular MX-5.
Unfortunately it is starting to show its age now – material quality and technology have come a long way in the years since the MX-5 Roadster Coupe’s introduction. The cabin feels a little out of date and it’s tight, with little in the way of elbow room and tight headroom for taller drivers. More importantly, engine technology has improved substantially since the MX-5 was launched. The 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol engines aren’t very efficient or very clean – the most frugal model has official economy of 40mpg and emissions of 167g/km, so annual tax discs are pricey.
That said, the MX-5 in any form – hard or soft-topped – is a joy to drive on a twisting country road and on a hot, bright summer’s day this compact, nimble little sports car feels genuinely special. The steering is perfectly weighted and packed with feel and both the 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre engines are powerful enough to be fun.
As a second car for weekends and odd trips, or for someone who values wind-in-the-hair, enjoyable motoring over cheap fuel and low emissions there's still a lot to like with the MX-5, and the Roadster Coupe is the icing on the cake - it's just as good as the fabric-topped car but with the advantages afforded by a metal roof.
What does a Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015) cost?
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015): What's It Like Inside?
With just two seats you expect a cramped cabin and that’s exactly what you get. The driving position is low to the ground and closed in – the car almost feels like a cocoon wrapped around the seats. Elbow room is a little tight and taller drivers might struggle to get comfortable, with limited leg room and head room, but for most people it’s not hard to find a good driving position.
The major controls are laid out in a way that makes them intuitive to use - the steering wheel is low and close, the gear lever has a short throw and the pedal box is nicely spaced. These factors make for a car that feels natural to drive and that adds to the sense of involvement – it feels like you’re in the car and you're in control. In an era of cars which detach the driver from the sensations of driving it's very welcome.
Unfortunately, while the driving position is good the materials feel outdated, as does the standard audio system which looks old-fashioned. Upper trim grades do get the advantage of a touch screen nav systen, although it could be easier to use.
Some of the smaller trim elements are a bit behind the times too, like the air vent nozzles. They work fine but they aren't up to the standards of similarly priced cars from other makers like Volkswagen. The MX-5 might have been up to date in 2006 but it’s getting on a bit now and it shows in the cabin.
Thankfully the Roadster Coupe feels a little more modern than its soft-topped counterpart. It’s more refined and feels more substantial – and it comes with the added bonus of an electrically folding top. Unlock the roof, press the button and voila, it folds into the same cubby hole behind the seats as in the fabric-topped car, so load space is unaffected.
At 150 litres it’s hardly a spacious boot, but you can’t expect much better from a small sports car. It’s big enough for a small shopping trip or a weekend away, and it’s the same size whether the roof is up or down, meaning you don’t have to pack especially light if you want to catch the sun.
SE grade comes with climate control, electric windows, remote central locking, heated door mirrors, power retractable hard top roof, audio system with AUX-in, steering wheel mounted audio controls, leather trimmed gear lever and steering wheel.
Sport Tech adds cruise control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Bluetooth, leather seat trim, upgraded audio system.
Sport Tech Nav adds TomTom navigation.
Child seats that fit a Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015) like to drive?
One of the issues buyers of the metal-topped MX-5 Roadster Coupe will be concerned about is added weight – a thin layer of fabric is obviously much lighter than electric motors and a load of metalwork. Added weight often means a dulled driving experience but thankfully that’s not the case with the Roadster Coupe.
It feels like it belongs on a twisting country road. It’s been designed with driver enjoyment at its core and it really does show, even now that the car is a bit long in the tooth. The suspension is fully independent and so offers great handling with reasonable – if slightly jiggly – ride quality. The steering is close to perfect - it’s well weighted and wonderfully communicative, letting you feel the road through your palms.
Though the 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines are past their best in terms of economy and emissions, they’re both perfectly enjoyable on the road – the smaller 126PS engine is mated to a five-speed gearbox and the larger 186PS engine to a six-speeder, but picking between the two is tricky – they feel fairly similar and buyers of the 1.8 ought not to feel short changed. Peak torque from the 1.8i is 170Nm while the 2.0i musters up 186Nm.
Neither engine offers blistering performance, though. The 2.0i is the quickest from 0-62mph but it still takes 7.9 seconds – that’s not slow but it’s not speedy, either. It doesn’t matter though – both engines come alive at high revs and help give the feeling of real pace, even if you’re well within the speed limit.
Unfortunately, while the driving experience is wonderful there are issues with the MX-5 Roadster Coupe attributable to its age. Back in 2006 emissions of between 167g/km and 193g/km were fine, but nowadays much swifter cars are delivering better emissions and consequently lower annual VED bills. Fuel economy isn’t up to much either – official figures are between 35mpg and 40mpg.
Additionally, refinement isn’t the best either. Thankfully the hard-top Roadster Coupe is more hushed than the fabric-topped MX-5 but it’s not exactly a limousine – there are squeaks in the cabin and there’s noticeable noise from the road and the wind.
It's easy to forgive the MX-5 Roadster Coupe's flaws when you find a great, scenic route on a beautiful day. It's not a hugely expensive car and yet it feels genuinely special. It's balanced and poised and yet it doesn't need to be incredibly powerful or swift to deliver true enjoyment.
|1.8i||39–40 mpg||9.4–9.9 s||167–174 g/km|
|2.0i||35–37 mpg||7.9–8.9 s||177–193 g/km|
|2.0i PowerShift||35 mpg||8.9 s||188 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe (2006 – 2015)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
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