Mazda MX-5 (2015-present)

Latest version of hugely popular Mazda MX-5 roadster is the best yet

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Great fun to drive
Head-turning looks
Affordable for a sports car

Weaknesses 

Not at all practical
Interior could be nicer
Visibility bad when roof is up
Mazda MX-5 prices from £11,495   Finance from £183 per month

The Mazda MX-5 is a model name that has been around since the early Nineties. In that time, it’s become known the world over for providing a fun, affordable top-down driving experience and is the best-selling two-seater convertible of all time.

The most recent fourth-generation model, introduced in late 2015, remains true to the original’s philosophy of offering a small, light and simple rear-wheel-drive car with a modestly powerful engine and very precise steering for a satisfying, involving driving experience.

Direct rivals for the MX-5 are hard to come by. It’s a lot cheaper than even the cheapest Porsche Boxster, Lotus Elise or BMW Z4, while less expensive convertibles like the Audi TT, Mercedes SLK and MINI convertible are heavier, have four seats and lack the Mazda’s pure focus on fun. The Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ similarly focussed, but they’re not offered as convertibles, so you miss out on wind-in-the-hair thrills.

Inside, the MX-5 is best described as ‘snug’. There’s enough space for two average-size adults, but taller occupants will soon feel claustrophobic. There are no rear seats, not much in the way of storage bins or pockets and the boot is very small (130-litre boot). The MX-5 is best suited to people without many commitments, or to being a fun ‘weekend’ car to have alongside something bigger and more practical for doing the shopping or school runs in.

While the MX-5 is well equipped and the interior feels solid, it's definitely more functional rather than plush and luxurious. The entertainment system feels outdated, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are dealer fit options only. Mazda has also decided not to use turbocharging technology in this car, so fuel economy and CO2 emissions from the two petrol engines are on the high side, with a minimum £140-a-year tax bill.

Really, though, it’s all about how the MX-5 feels behind the wheel. It’s simply one of the most fun-to-drive cars you can buy at any price, with superbly precise steering and a very slick six-speed manual gearbox. For that, you can overlook a few minor faults.

Last Updated 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 18:00

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
130 litres
Width: 
1,735mm
Length: 
3,915mm
Height: 
1,225mm
Tax (min to max): 
£130 to £180

Best Mazda MX-5 for... 

Mazda MX-5 1.5
The 1.5-litre petrol returns the best fuel economy of the two Mazda engine options – around 47mpg. As it isn’t turbocharged, its CO2 emissions are quite high, though, so road tax is £130 a year.
Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE-L Nav 2dr convertible
As it only has two seats, the Mazda MX-5 is not suitable for use as a family car. We think the SE-L Nav is the sweet spot of the range, though, striking a good balance between an affordable purchase price and appealing standard equipment.
Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport 2dr convertible
The 2.0-litre is a stronger performer than the 1.5-litre, getting from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and generally feeling more urgent and responsive in day-to-day driving. It is more expensive, though, and the 1.5-litre is just as much fun to drive, so it’s debatable whether it’s worth it.
Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE 2dr convertible
The entry-level Mazda MX-5 is a perfectly fine car – it’s just missing some kit that buyers tend to like, such as sat-nav and automatic climate control (it has manual air-conditioning).

Mazda MX-5 History 

September 2014: Unveiling of fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 for 2015 sales
November 2015: Sport Recaro limited-edition model added to range

Understanding Mazda MX-5 car names 

  • MX-5
  • Engine
    2.0
  • Trim
    SE-L Nav
  • Engine
    Mazda offers two petrol engines for the MX-5: a 1.5-litre and a 2.0-litre.
  • Trim
    There are four MX-5 trim levels – SE-L, SE-L Nav, Sport and Sport Nav – as well as special editions from time to time, like the Sport Recaro.

Mazda MX-5 Engines 

1.5i, 2.0i (petrol)

One of the trickiest decisions to make when buying an MX-5 is what engine to get. As this is a sports car, the obvious choice may seem to be the more powerful 2.0-litre, but in reality many people may prefer the cheaper, and more economical 1.5-litre. 

The 2.0-litre will be appreciated if you use the motorway a lot or are a serious enthusiast who likes going quickly. Those planning one using their MX-5 on track will also gravitate towards this engine because of its extra power. Cars with this engine and Sport Nav + spec also have sportier suspension for sharper handling.

As neither engine is turbocharged, the Mazda MX-5’s fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren’t particularly impressive when compared to other modern sports cars. It’s still reasonably cheap to run, though, and the fun you’ll have driving it makes up for the slightly higher bills.

Fuel

Mpg

Bhp

0 - 62mph

top speed

1.5i

Petrol

44.8mpg

129bhp

8.3s

127mph

2.0i

Petrol

40.9mpg

181bhp

6.5s

136mph

Mazda MX-5 Trims 

SE +, SE-L Nav +, Sport Nav +, GT Sport Nav +

Affordable sports cars like the MX-5 are all about the driving experience, rather than lashings of in-car technology and luxury. So we don’t think it’s necessary to spend too much on a high-spec version – or trim level – when even the cheapest MX-5 has that great 1.5-litre engine and sweet six-speed manual gearbox.

The range begins with SE +, which has climate control, cruise control, push-button start, electric windows, 16-inch alloys, LED lights, a seven-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth. SE-L Nav + simply adds sat nav, which is worth going for, as not only does it make day-to-day driving less stressful, it’ll also make the car more appealing on the used market.

The Sport Nav + model adds keyless entry, grey rather than silver alloy wheels, automatic lights and rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, two extra speakers for the stereo, heated leather seats and a lane-departure warning system. They also have a form of autonomous emergency braking, a lane departure warning system and a traffic sign recognition system.

GT Sport Nav + was added to the range in 2018. This is top of the line, and has all of the options above, as well as a blind spot monitoring system, adaptive LED headlights, and a reversing camera.

Mazda MX-5 Reliability and warranty 

Previous versions of the Mazda MX-5 are known for their near-bulletproof reliability and long-term dependability. This model’s immediate predecessor, for example, was ranked 17th for reliability and 66th for build quality out of 200 cars in the most recent 2015 edition of Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

This generation Mazda MX-5 is highly rated by owners and was ranked 4th out of 75 for reliability in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

The warranty is a fairly standard three-years / 60,000 miles, which is no better than average.

Used Mazda MX-5 

The Mazda MX-5 is a very popular and desirable car, so used values are strong and new discounts reasonably modest.

There are currently 58 Mazda MX-5s available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £11,495 to £21,500 for nearly-new models.

Monthly finance payments start from £183 per month.

A few different limited editions have graced the range, like the Sport Recaro. This was introduced in late 2015, available exclusively with the 2.0-litre engine. To the Sport’s spec, it adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a black rear spoiler and bodykit, alloy pedals and special Recaro sports seats. 

In September 2018 the MX-5 was updated. The most notable change was to its 2.0-litre engine. Power was upped from 160bhp to 181bhp, and there's a notable difference in pace. So if you're after the fastest MX-5, it's worth seeking these out.

Mazda MX-5 deals

Mazda MX-5: used car prices1 year old2 years old3 years old

Best for performance Mazda MX-5 2.0

£15,377£13,000£10,000
Best for economy Mazda MX-5 1.5

£12,598£11,495£10,750

Other Editions