Looks great and is fun to drive. A car like this never goes out of fashion. Photo Gallery
Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Mazda MX-5.
It's been over 20 years since Mazda released the first MX-5 and it's still going strong. Now in its 4th generation, the designers have remained true to the car's original DNA.
Sadly though it has suffered from price creep over the years, with the entry level model now $44,265 before on-roads. Our test vehicle, the hard topped sports coupe, is $49,805 putting it perilously close to the $50K mark.
Of course Mazda would argue and we would agree that you get a lot more for your dollar these days. But it's still a heck of a long, long way from the $29,550 that the car kicked off at in 1989.
These days you get a high revving 2.0-litre DOHC petrol engine that produces 118kW of power and 188Nm of torque, together with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with paddle shifts. That's not much power you might say and you'd be right, but it's not all about power it's the power to weight ratio and tidy dynamics of the car that are most important.
The manual is rated at 8.1 litres/100km, same as the auto.
MX-5 gets four out of five stars in crash tests. That's not bad considering its size but it could be better (suffice to say we feel a lot safer in one these days). The roadster is fitted with driver and passenger front and side airbags, dynamic stability and traction control systems, as well as anti-lock brakes. The manual also scores a limited slip rear diff.
The coupe allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds, with an electric folding hardtop that opens or closes at the touch of a button in just 12 seconds. The hard shell makes it more secure and also a lot quieter inside the cabin.
WHAT YOU GET
The current model dates back to 2009, but you may still find a few special editions kicking around with Bilstein suspension (200 were released priced from $47,200).
The sports coupe adds Recaro seats and a set of great looking 17 inch BBS alloys over the standard model. Quality 200 watt Bose audio system is fitted, with an AUX input for iPods but the six-stacker CD is overkill these days.
Bluetooth for one thing and there's no trip computer to help you keep track of fuel consumption.
Great fun. The drive is engaging and will have you searching for winding roads where the car can stretch its legs. The steering is direct, the clutch action light and the short shifting close ratio box is child's play to use.
Keep it revving to get the best out of it. Unfortunately the Recaros are a bit narrow for mature backsides (we're working on that) because the side bolsters press into your thighs and tend to become uncomfortable after a while. Not a great range of seat or wheel adjustment either (tilt only).
Looks great and is fun to drive. A car like this never goes out of fashion. Still the best bang for your buck in terms of driving excitement and that wind in your hair feeling.
Price: from $42, 460
Warranty: 3 years
Engine: 4 Cylinder, 2.0 Litre
Transmission: six-speed sports automatic, six-speed manual
Thirst: 8.1 / 100Km