MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav
of Troy had nothing on the
while the daughter of Zeus
launched a thousand ships, the MX-5
has sold not by the thousand but by
the hundred thousand; at last count it
was approaching 945,000 world-wide.
Fortunately, unlike Paris, you dont
have to kidnap one and start a war to
have some fun...
Twenty-five years ago the MX-5 single-handedly revived the virtually extinct
market for roadsters. Regularly honed and technically updated over the intervening
years and three generations, it's still the accomplished fun-to-drive two-seater
sports car it was designed to be.
Fast forward to 2014 and there's a new fourth-generation MX-5 waiting in
the wings (due to be unveiled in September this year). So, what better time
to drive the still-current model and savour the perfect 50:50 front:rear weight
balance underpinning a driving experience that's made the MX-5 an icon for so
many enthusiasts (and also the holder of the Guinness World Record for the best-selling
two-seater sports car of all time).
MX-5 majors on two things: open-to-the-sky motoring and smile-inducing handling.
As to its topless charms, it all starts with a press on the 'top down' button
atop the centre stack twelve seconds later all there'll be behind
you is a clear rear deck. And above you, infinity…
cabin has been
to maximise space.
Not as tight-fitting
as a F1 cars cockpit
but still with that
lets get to it
tailored for the track
The Roadster Coupe's two-piece metal roof power-folds away into a well between
the seatbacks and the boot, so roof up or down there's always a guaranteed 150
litres of space in the top-loading boot for luggage. Use 'soft' luggage and
you'll be amazed at what can be squeezed in.
While you can buy a cheaper rag-top MX-5 (a 124bhp 1.8-litre for £18,495),
the metal-roofed 'Coupe' versions, which start at £19,995, provide better all-year-round
practicality as well as extra convenience, refinement, and additional security.
With the roof up the MX-5 is a classy looker although still patently a 'roadster'
rather than a fixed-head coupe.
Externally measuring four metres from nose to tail and 1.7 metres wide, the
MX-5's black-themed cabin has been thoughtfully packaged to maximise space.
Not as tight-fitting as a F1 car's cockpit but still with that let's get to
it 'tailored for the track' feel.
The sports seats are low-slung, leather-clad items with integral headrests;
effectively bolstered, they provide decent built-in lumbar support, making long
journeys as pleasant as short ones. Near six-footers have ample legroom as well
as a fist of headroom with the roof in situ. It helps, too, that the ride, which
while necessarily 'sportingly' firm, is far more compliant than expected
even speed bumps won't give you the hump.
And snug doesn't mean 'no place to stow' backing up the fair-sized
lockable glovebox there are ample cubby-holes including a dual-usage storage
bin with a sliding lid alongside the handbrake that can be used for cups or
oddments; ahead of the gear lever at the bottom of the centre stack is another
open storage bin (with a rubber mat to minimise rattling and to keep things
in place) that's also conveniently close to the AUX jack for connecting an MP3
player to the HiFi.
storage is provided by a cubby with a lockable lid between the seatbacks in
the rear bulkhead by the way, when you need to top up with petrol
this is where you'll find the release for the filler flap. There are also small
round bins for bottles ahead of each door handle, along with net pockets on
range-topping Sport Tech Nav model is well kitted-out in addition
to the electrically-operated retractable hardtop (with heated rear-glass) there's
climate control AirCon, heated (5-stage) black leather seats, cruise control,
electrically-adjustable heated door mirrors, leather-wrapped multifunction steering
wheel, power windows (driver's with one-touch auto-down operation), and an auto-dimming
also get a Bose audio with integrated 6-CD changer and seven speakers, USB &
Aux-in, Bluetooth with voice recognition, tinted glass, front and front-side
airbags, polished stainless steel kick-plates, and front fog lights.
the only way is,
no, not Essex,
but rear-wheel drive.
And its RWD
that elevates the MX-5
above any hot-hatch
when it comes to
'kit' includes a set of ten-spoke 17-inch alloys, sports suspension with Bilstein
dampers, a front suspension strut brace (for improved steering response), Limited
Slip Differential, and a stability and traction control system. And, as you'll
see the moment you lower the roof for the first time, a pair of smartly-finished
roll-hoops behind the headrests.
is good and although the slim steering wheel only adjusts for height, a perfect
driving position is quickly set. The driver's seat is height adjustable, and
nice touches include the seatbelt guides on the top outer shoulder of the seatbacks
that ensure stretch-free belting up. And your left shoe gets a well-placed footrest
for those long trips when you're 'in the cruise'.
The fairly wide and hip-height centre tunnel adds to the 'cockpit' feel, as
does the stubby gear lever that falls perfectly to hand. There's a trad handbrake,
which will please most drivers, especially those who know a thing or two about
More good news on the logically arranged centre stack is the Bose HiFi and the
excellent 3D SatNav that's so easy to destination-set and which delivers clearly-spoken
and timely directions especially welcome in busy traffic. Also
close by are the switches for the heated seats that offer not one, not two,
not even three but five degrees of 'roast' whatever the
chill factor, you'll be snug as a bug on even the coldest days. Particularly
as the very efficient climate control offers dedicated settings for roof-up
and roof-down modes. Very civilised.
small leather-rimmed wheel (remote buttons for the audio and cruise are on the
horizontal spokes) feels the biz as your fingers wrap around it. Dead ahead
is a five-dial instrument cluster; the crisp white markings stand out sharply
from their black faces and keep you in the picture on the move
and, confirming the MX-5 takes hard driving seriously, there's an oil pressure
gauge slotted between the rev-counter and speedo.
with the MX-5 it's the driving thrills that are the backbone of the entertainment:
whereas with engines there's no substitute for cubic inches, when it comes to
handling brio there's no substitute for rear-wheel drive for sheer
unadulterated chuckability the only way is, no, not Essex, but RWD. And it's
rear-wheel drive that elevates the MX-5 above any hot-hatch when it comes to
serving up a gratifying feast of smile-inducing driving.
steering's sharp and the MX-5 communicates eagerly through the helm; the brakes
are progressive and powerful and there's good grip from the 205/45 Bridgestone
Potenzas. Sport Tech versions come with a sports suspension and Bilstein front
and rear shocks, along with a front strut brace.
to extremes (not on public roads, thank you), the MX-5's tail will step out
but any impending breakaway is well telegraphed and easily catchable
by an alert pilot. All part of the RWD fun experience. Naturally, electronic
traction and stability control is fitted JIC you're not quite the polished driver
you think you are…
If you really want to
motor youll need
to make full use of the
gearbox to stay in the
Not a problem.
The opposite in fact,
thanks to a set of well-
weighted pedals and the
gearchange action that
adds to the intimacy
the driver shares with
his or her MX-5...
this day and age, 157bhp might not sound tyre-smokin' potent but then the MX-5
is a lightweight player: its bonnet and bootlid, and engine subframe and suspension
control arms, are all aluminium, as too is the front-midship-mounted engine.
Alongside its 157bhp, the petrol-drinking, four-pot, 1,999cc motor generates
138lb ft of torque. The best of it comes some way up the rev-range
peak torque hits at 5,000rpm and max power at 7,000rpm so if you
really want to gallop those horses you'll need to make full use of the six-speed
manual 'box to stay in the powerband. Not a problem. The opposite in fact, thanks
to a set of well-weighted pedals and the crisp, short-throw gearchange action
that adds to the intimacy the driver shares with his or her MX-5.
to the benchmark 62mph takes under eight seconds; top speed is 136mph. For drivers
who like to play by the rules, 70mph in sixth gear calls for a relaxed 3,000rpm.
If you do find yourself driving on an autobahn, another nice touch is that at
100mph the speedometer needle points at an easy-to-spot twelve o'clock.
Officially you should see 25.9mpg in town, 46.3 touring and 36.2mpg combined.
Real-world driving over a good mix of fast and slow roads saw a week's average
of a more than acceptable 35.1mpg.
Top down it's all tickety-boo: the tall seatbacks and a mini-windbreaker between
the headrests between them block any draughts that would otherwise reach your
neck, and buffeting is noticeable by its absence. At the legal limit, cruising
roof-down on the motorway is pleasant; topless driving elsewhere is even more
rewarding and something you'll find yourself unable to stop doing at every opportunity.
Long Live The Roadster!
For driving enthusiasts the MX-5 is one of the most affordable and also one
of the most entertaining sports cars on sale, one that guarantees grin-generating
blacktop motoring every time you fire up the engine. Enjoy.
Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe 2.0i Sport Tech Nav
Maximum speed: 136mph | 0-62mph: 7.9 seconds | Test Average: 35.1mpg
Power: 157bhp | Torque: 138lb ft | CO2 181g/km