If ever I could do a one line review it would be this: The Mazda MX-5 is the best car in the World.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when it comes to euro-for-euro bang-for-your-buck motoring, the two-seat Mazda MX-5 is the best there is.
The front engined, rear-wheel drive sportscar is now in its fourth generation. It is wonderfully precise to drive, has enough power to be enjoyable and has cuter-than-ever styling. The exterior shows hints of, dare I say “Ferrari”, mixed in with the disarmingly curvy 1989 original MX-5. The fact that global sales reflect the MX-5’s stature as the World’s favourite sportscar confirms the brilliance of the Japanese car.
Yes, Mazda clearly nicked the best bits from British and Italian sportscars of the sixties and seventies and threw them in a mixing pot to deliver a reliable and wonderfully retro driving experience. Now I must put my hand up as a biased fan, I owned an original for three years, which is an age for a motoring hack – a motoring journalist’s year equals about seven years of most car owners! I also was lucky enough to endurance race the last version both on the track and on ice – which was outrageous fun!
MX-5 is not the most practical machine, but golfers can fit a set of clubs in the boot. You can’t seat more than two in here, and proper order too because this is a sportscar and it’s all about the driver and passenger. To this day I still remind my eldest child that SHE made me sell my favourite car (well equal favourite – I had a classic Citroen DS).
So what are the ingredients that make MX-5 so special? Firstly, the car has an old school driving layout. Under the bonnet sits a length-ways mounted 1.5-litre engine (a more-powerful 2-litre is available in other markets also) – hence the long bonnet similar to an old MGB. The four-cylinder petrol engine connects to the rear wheels via a brilliant short-throw manual gearbox. The seats are low and the steering geared so that just a little input gets big results. MX-5’s tight steering ratio has been key in delivering the car’s precise and nimble handling that is simply joyous.
The latest Mazda MX-5 is greener and more economical but while that’s helpful it is not what the car is about. MX-5 needs the driver, and as a driver you need to drive the MX-5. So many cars these days remove and cosset the driver from what is going on, but the little Mazda talks to you all the time. It wants to put a grin on your face.
The SKYACTIV 1.5 does 0-100kph in 8.3 seconds but it feels a lot quicker because you are only a few centimeters off the ground. Top speed from the 131hp machine is 204kph, but again that doesn’t really matter as the MX-5 lets you have tons of fun at legal speeds. The latest car is lighter and stiffer too and this means better performance over the outgoing car.
Prices start at €28K, with the Roadster GT costs €30K… but you get €100K’s worth of fun!