Mazda MX-5 Review 2022

Mazda MX-5 At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Stop thinking about buying a Mazda MX-5. Go ahead and buy one. Life’s too short to drive boring cars.

+Excellent handling makes it fun to drive. 1.5-litre model works very well on uneven UK roads. 2.0 as quick as many drivers would ever want. Well-equipped for the money.

-No rear seats. Avoid the automatic gearbox unless you really need an auto.

New prices start from £18,455
Insurance Groups are between 24–30
On average it achieves 102% of the official MPG figure

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.

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.

Ask Honest John

What's the best treatment to prevent discolouration and to protect a convertible roof?
"I've just bought a new Mazda MX-5. I'd like to have your view on the best way to protect the soft canvas top. My old vehicle developed stains, algae marks and accumulated some mossy deposits at the base of the hood. What's the best treatment to prevent discolouration and to protect? "
There are a couple of options we'd recommend. The first is Autoglym's two-part maintenance kit to clean and preserve it: Or, you could try Gtechniq's W2 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Smart Fabric V2: and
Answered by Georgia Petrie
What can I do to preserve the hood on a modern convertible?
"I am considering buying a 2016 Mazda MX-5 convertible. I do not have a garage, so it will live on my drive for 365 days, although it will be used daily. What can I do to minimize the effects of rain, snow etc on the soft top and the car in general? Should I buy a coupe instead?"
Modern convertibles cope pretty well with being left outside in all weather. There are products you can buy to help maintain it, such as Autoglym's soft top protector. That said, the Mazda MX-5 RF is a good alternative with a metal roof.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's the best car with a naturally aspirated engine?
"I am looking for a car with a naturally aspirated engine as I dislike all turbo ones. My favourite is a Toyota GT86 - are there any other ones for under £15k"
Mazda takes the naturally-aspirated route with its petrol engines. The Mazda MX-5 is a good alternative to the GT86 and has the bonus of a convertible roof.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's an eco-conscious replacement for my Porsche Boxster?
"I have owned a 1998 Boxster happily for about 10 years. It's a beautiful car, lots of fun to drive and I wouldn't be considering saying goodbye to it just yet but for the introduction of the ULEZ in London in April this year. Air quality is a serious matter so I've not got an objection to the idea that older polluting cars should be restricted in high-density areas. What is going to become of all the 'modern' classic cars? Is there a chance of a widely available hybrid replacement engine? And can you recommend a car - of any make - that might be an eco-conscious replacement for my Boxster? "
First of all, don't hurry to sell your Porsche. Assuming you live in the ULEZ zone and are registered for the residents' Congestion Charge discount, you'll be entitled to a 100 per cent discount until October 2021. There are a few companies around converting classic cars to electric, but I'm not sure they'd offer a conversion for your Boxster. If you could find somewhere to store it outside of London, that might not be a bad idea - an early Boxster will be at the bottom of its depreciation curve, so might go up in value. There are quite a few about, though, so it probably won't become a serious investment any time soon - and you'll have to keep on top of maintenance, too. I'm not sure you'll be able to find a direct modern, hybrid equivalent to your Boxster, unfortunately. The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is a very good hybrid car, but it's more of a family car than a two-seater convertible. A BMW i8 Roadster might appeal, but it's not cheap - starting at around £127,000. I'd look for something like a new Mazda MX-5 - it's petrol, not a hybrid, but it does meet the ULEZ standards so won't be subject to a charge.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Mazda MX-5 cost?