Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The third generation MX-5 was launched here in late 2005 and a mid life facelift arrived in March 2009 that made a few cosmetic and mechanical changes.

Underneath, the suspension benefited from retuned steering and the basic body made even stiffer than before. As previously, the MX-5 retained a perfect 50:50 front to rear weight distribution.

The hardtop roof (Roadster Coupe grade) opens or closes at the push of a button (plus the manual unclipping of a lever) in an impressive 12 seconds, while only adding a low 37kgs to the MX-5’s weight and creates a quieter cabin in the process.

The second and final facelift happened in October 2012, with minor changes including a lower lip spoiler, more aggressive front bumper with revised foglight bezels and dark grey interior panel highlights replacing the matte dark silver.

Mazda says the MX-5 (six-speed manual models) benefit from sharper throttle response and a recalibrated braking system.

Mazda also quietly discontinued the fabric-roof MX-5 in early 2012 due to poor sales. And, we're not surprised the vast majority of MX-5’s sales go to the more livable Roadster Coupe.
Not so good Like every other hard top convertible in the market, the MX-5 Roadster Coupe looks noticeably less sexy with the roof up (a little ‘Bubble Boy’ like).
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Standard goodies include cruise control, a six disc CD player with MP3 compatibility, electric windows and mirrors.

The Sports variant adds leather Recaro sport bucket seats that feature Alcantara highlights - we really love how the sports seats really hug to your body.

The MX-5 features a decent sized glovebox, rear centre storage, useful door mounted storage nets and four cupholders (in a two seater car?!). The folding hard-top roof takes up no extra boot space. The boot is deep, helped by the fact that Mazda do not offer a spare tyre, and instead make use of a puncture repair kit.
Not so good Bigger, chunkier blokes will most definitely struggle getting in and out of the low slung MX-5. The top grade's Recaro seats are really snug too - good for small people, not so much for anyone over 90kgs.


Good On paper the 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine doesn't look that impressive, producing 118kW of power and only 188Nm of torque.

The MX-5 misses out on turbo or supercharging, however with a low kerb weight of just over 1,150kg the MX-5 can accelerate quite briskly.

On road the MX-5 feels as smooth-spinning as ever and absolutely loves to be revved. Plus no turbo means there is no turbo lag, just smooth linear power delivery all the way up to it's 7500rpm redline (manual gearbox).

The six-speed manual gearbox has a lovely short throw, that delivers precise gear shifts. Furthermore this MX-5 sounds great, the Induction Sound Enhancer (ISE) amplifies the induction noise bringing it closer to your ears via a duct in the dashboard! The throaty burble emitted from the exhaust is truly addictive.
Not so good Compared to the standard 6-speed manual, the auto (also a 6-speed) MX-5 comes with a slightly detuned engine (power and torque remains the same, yet peak power arrives 300rpm lower).

Because the MX-5 is a sports car there is some exhaust drone during freeway driving.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good This is where the MX-5 truly shines - steering feel is excellent, turn in is sharp and handling dynamics are nimble. The MX-5 is great at communicating the relationship between you and the tarmac. The low down seating position heightens driver involvement.

The ride remains refined and offers up pretty good levels of comfort given this is a full on sports car that's made for corners.

Overall, the MX-5 is a great choice for driving along a twisting road with handling that stays predictable and balanced.
Not so good More than desired wind and tyre noise. But, you'd be hard pressed faulting anything else.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Want handling characteristics that would rival a Lotus Elise, but want a more realistic daily driver? The more refined MX-5 can handle this role.

Ticks the safety box with standard dual front and side airbags and Electronic Stability Control (experienced driver’s will be glad that this and the Traction Control can be turned off at the push of a button).

Plus, all new Mazda MX-5's are backed by a 3-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

I guess the ‘Jinba Ittai’ mantra rings true with the Mazda MX-5, because we didn't want to hand the keys back. Simply translated to 'sense of oneness between driver and car'.
Not so good The MX-5 could make use of some xenon headlights as the standard ones aren't very bright.