Driven: Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav Review

DRIVEN: Mazda MX-5 Review

Following a week long test drive with the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe here is my review of the iconic sports car.

What’s the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe all about?

The Mazda MX-5 is in the 25th year of existence this year and the model you see before you here is to be replaced in 2016 by a completely new generation of MX-5. 25 years ago the Mazda MX-5 was a great affordable sports car; and now in the modern day I’m happy to report that Mazda are still creating this great affordable sports car that is just as much fun as it was.

Driven: Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav Review

The model on test is the Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav. The Mazda has two main variants, a soft top version, and a convertible hard top version. “Roadster Coupe” is the posh way of saying convertible hard top. The sport option means that you get the 2.0-litre engine and 6 speed manual gearbox, over the 1.8-litre engine and 5 speed manual gearbox in the base version. The Tech Nav option means that the car comes fitted with the 5.8-inch infotainment touchscreen satellite navigation system.

Mazda MX5-12

The 2.0-litre engine creates 160bhp and 188Nm of torque which goes to the rear wheels by a 6 speed manual gearbox. This will get the car from 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds and will keep going all the way up to 136mph. The numbers aren’t massive, but there is still a lot of fun to be had. If you do want to look for more power, aftermarket turbocharger and supercharger options are readily available.

How does it drive?

Like it or not the Mazda still has strong links to the original MX-5’s driving characteristics. From the minute you set off everything about the car just feels alive and engaging.  Even starting the car up somehow has on old school reliable feel about it. Getting into the car you sit low to the ground and have a very flat driving position which is exactly where you want to be in a real driver’s car.

Mazda MX5-80 Once you’re on the road, you don’t have to travel too far before the MX-5 will suck you into driving in its playful ways. The number one plus point about the car is the handling, which for me comes from the perfectly engineered steering mechanics. The steering feels attached to the front wheels and operates with pin point accuracy, it’s impressive how this one element really makes the rest of the car just feel that much better. There are a lot of other factors that add to that experience as well, I realise that, but wow what a driving dynamic the MX-5 has.

Mazda MX5-79 Mazda MX-5 Review

Aside from the steering, all the other elements of the car feel quite old fashioned, but this isn’t meant as a negative; the driving controls don’t feel numbed by electronics, they don’t iron out any incorrect movements that you put into the car. It simply just does what you tell it to do and if you get it wrong, you only have yourself to blame.  Don’t get me wrong the MX-5 is still a very modern car, but it has been manufactured in such a way to amplify a sense of control that many other manufacturers have missed. It’s really refreshing driving a car like this.

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What’s it like inside?

On the inside, to sum it up, it’s a small place with everything you need and nothing you don’t need. Looking into the cabin everything is neat, tidy, and free from clutter. It is as you expect it really; it has pedals, a steering wheel, gear stick, and a handbrake. There are only a few additions on top of these essentials, which are the 3 dials for the heating controls, the entertainment system, and the heated seat settings. Whilst on that point it’s worth mentioning that with the seats on the highest setting, they are red hot, so you will have no problem driving this car in the British winter, even with the roof off!

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The infotainment system does look and feel to be a bit of an afterthought for the MX-5; the car as a whole has a very classic feel and for me the modern touch screen just doesn’t feel at home in the interior.

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The Experience

There is no doubt that the MX-5 delivers a highly respectable roof down driving experience that demonstrates that you don’t need a huge V8 and torque vectoring all-wheel drive system to be fast around a circuit or to simply enjoy driving. The MX-5 is really the backbone of sports car motoring, and the modern day variant is every bit as competitive as the first generation. I can’t think of a single car that really challenges the MX-5 experience for its simple driver focused characteristics at its very competitive price.

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The Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav is head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to driveability vs cost. Despite having a more general appeal than other brands’ models in this category, no driver will doubt the perfect driving characteristics of this car.

Check out the 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF review.

Mazda MX5-18 - Mazda MX-5 Review

Video Highlights


Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav
  • Price: £23,295  
  • Engine: 2.0-Litre Petrol
  • Power: 160bhp
  • Torque: 188Nm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
  • 0-62mph: 7.9 Seconds
  • Top speed: 136mph
  • Weight: 1,248kg
  • Economy combined: 36mpg
  • CO2: 181 g/km

Full Gallery7 Day Diary

Author: Paul Hadley