Mazda MX-5 Open

The Essentials

  • Price from £17,995
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 39.8mpg
  • What is it? Brilliant to drive, stylish and well priced

Great

  • This really is the perfect roadster
  • It's so much fun to drive, your face will ache from smiling
  • The running costs are pleasingly low

Gripes

  • You need a heavy right foot to get it going
  • The exhaust note sounds weedy
  • If you want lots of accessories, you have to pay extra
  • Drive

    Driving it is so much fun, youll never want to walk anywhere ever again

  • Inside

    Even if you have supermodel-length legs, youll fit neatly behind the wheel

  • Safety

    You get twin front and side airbags, plus an immobiliser and an alarm

  • Reliability

    Service it regularly and it'll last almost as long as Stonehenge

  • Space

    The perfect getaway - it's strictly for two

  • Standard and extras

    Basic cars are bare, but upgrade and you get leather seats and high-tech driver aids

  • What's it like to drive?

    Want your roadster to be fun? The MX-5 will be right up your street. The lightweight, rear-wheel drive chassis gives the car outstanding poise and agility and there's loads of grip, too. Sensitive, communicative steering adds to the experience. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, although Sport versions have stiffer suspension that's less forgiving.
    With the roof down, there isn't too much wind buffeting in the cabin and the high-backed sports seats help prevent draughts around your neck. Roof up, the fabric does a decent job of blotting out wind noise, but if you do a lot of winter motorway driving, it is worth paying the extra for the Roadster Coupe version's folding hardtop.
    There's a choice between a 124bhp 1.8 or a 158bhp 2.0 engine. We'd stick with the 1.8; it needs working hard but that's all part of the fun.

  • What's it like inside?

    The low-slung driving position feels sporty and snug, and even though the steering wheel only adjusts for height it's easy to find a good driving position. Your passenger will have plenty of room to stretch out, too, but the MX-5 is a two-seater, so the kids will have to stay home. Although the dash looks good, some of the plastic feels cheap. The boot isn't huge but will be able to carry enough luggage for wild weekends away. Opening and closing the roof is a manual job but it's quick and easy nonetheless.
    Entry-level models have electric windows and alloy wheels, but air-conditioning costs extra. The 2.0i Sport adds bespoke suspension, a six-speed gearbox and fog lights, larger alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control and an upgraded stereo.

  • How reliable is it?

    Counting how many shiny, older MX-5s you still see on the road should allay any fears over its durability. It's no surprise, then, that it scored five out of five for mechanical reliability in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey.
    Front airbags are standard, along with stability control to help keep you on track if you get carried away. The 2.0-litre model has side airbags, too. The latest MX-5 hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, though.

  • Should I buy one?

    Oh yes. Speed, agility and bullet-proof build quality - the Mazda MX-5 has everything you could ask from a roadster.