Mazda MX-5 review

Mazda MX-5 1.8i SE 2dr Roadster Coupe

It is hard to imagine it now, but the Mazda MX-5 has been around for 20 years, and though it wasn’t the first two-seater roadster on the market it’s arguably been the most successful, and certainly the most enduring.

Whereas the Honda S2000, Toyota MR-2 and MG TF have faltered, or disappeared off the map completely, the MX-5 has prevailed, carving its name in the consciousness of drivers everywhere.

Very few cars on the roads today are built solely for the simple pleasure of driving, but if there’s one everyday car that could be said to be simply about having a whale of a time, it’s the little Mazda two-seater.

Visually it’s changed little in 20 years, and hasn’t grown in dimensions or weight as it’s got older, like most cars on the road these days seem to. In fact, Mazda makes a point of highlighting the MX-5’s lack of weight.

The Roadster Coupe, with a folding metal roof that opens and closes in 12 seconds and doesn’t interfere with boot space, adds a measly 30-odd kilos over the fabric roof.

As a result, the MX-5 gets only 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol engines with relatively weedy power and torque outputs – 126bhp and 123lb-ft in the former. Not that you’d know it, because the MX-5 is designed with driving in mind and makes the most of its power and twist.

This is also accentuated by the MX-5’s suspension, which lets the driver know exactly what is going on underneath the wheels. The car allows you to feel where the limits are and enjoy its abilities as a result. The driving position, extremely low and flat, also makes the driver feel much more engaged than most other cars. A five-speed manual box is the right transmission to go with the MX-5 too – far more engaging than an auto box in a fun little car like this.

Inside the MX-5 Roadster Coupe also feels like it’s orientated towards driving, first and foremost. The seating position feels like being in a cockpit, and the dials and switches are simple and intuitive.

Outside the MX-5 doesn’t look its age, despite the basic design changing little over the years. It’s compact, yet purposeful, without looking as dinky as something like the Daihatsu Copen.

Shorn of weight, unnecessary bells and whistles, rear seats and a larger boot, the Mazda MX-5 is the most obvious example of a drivers-focussed sports car on the road today that is within range of virtually anyone who can afford to buy a car.

It’s not a car for ferrying the family around in, it’s a car for anyone who wants to enjoy driving – and it also makes sense in town and on the motorway.

In a world that’s constantly getting fatter, bigger, lazier and duller the Mazda MX-5 is a breath of fresh air. Mazda’s ‘zoom-zoom’ slogan makes perfect sense after a run out in the MX-5. It will put a big stupid smile on your face.