From £18,3109
The limited-run Sport Recaro MX-5 is the most expensive version of Mazda’s roadster yet. At more than £24,000, is it worth the extra?

Our Verdict

Here is the fourth-gen Mazda MX-5 - the definitive small sports car

Fourth-generation MX-5 heads back to the roadster's roots

  • First Drive

    2016 Mazda MX-5 Sport Recaro review

    The limited-run Sport Recaro MX-5 is the most expensive version of Mazda’s roadster yet. At more than £24,000, is it worth the extra?
  • First Drive

    2015 Mazda MX-5 1.5 review

    Is the entry-level, 129bhp Mazda MX-5 as much fun on UK roads as we know the more potent 2.0-litre model to be?

What is it?

Mazda has a long history of churning out special editions of the MX-5, something that hasn’t changed with this fourth-generation car. The Sport Recaro variant is based on the 2.0-litre Sport Nav model, with additional equipment and more aggressive looks.

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, it has a pair of Alcantara-trimmed Recaro sports seats with a matching trim panel on the dashboard. It also has alloy pedals and a punchy Bose sound system.

There are bigger changes outside, including diamond-cut 17in alloy wheels, standard metallic paint, a bodykit in gloss black and a small spoiler on the bootlid. Although there are no mechanical changes, it shares the Sport Nav’s Bilstein shocks, stiffer springs, front strut brace and limited-slip differential.

What's it like?

While some may be disappointed there isn’t more power or a sharper focus to the handling, the MX-5 remains a joyous thing. Despite riding on stiffer sports suspension, there’s more body roll than you might expect, but the more time you spend behind the wheel, the more this makes sense. Thanks to the body being allowed to move, you really feel the mass of the car shifting around. You soon learn to use the weight transfer to pin the nose to the ground on corner entry to allow the tail to become mobile.

You have to wait to jump back on the power though; get on it too early and you’ll get understeer. Balance it right and you feel the tail moving oh-so-slightly, helping you round the corner. You have to work at it, but it’s rewarding when everything clicks.

If you’re new to rear-wheel drive it really is an excellent car to learn in. Well-judged stability control helps; you’ll be travelling very quickly in the dry before you feel it cut in and it’s subtle when it does. A word of warning though, should you decide to switch everything off in the wet, the short wheelbase means the tail steps out abruptly. 

The motor might not be particularly powerful but it’s certainly eager. It’ll happily rev round to its limiter making a rorty noise in the process. It’s easy to keep it on the boil thanks to the precise, short-throw gearchange that’s a delight to use.

Even if you short-shift, the car’s sub-1100kg weight (including a driver) means it’ll pull from a little over 1000rpm without too much fuss. This helped the car achieve an indicated fuel economy of more than 40mpg - if the trip computer is to be believed.

Inside, shorter folk won’t have too much difficulty getting comfy, although taller drivers may struggle a little. This isn’t helped by a steering wheel that adjusts for rake only. The Recaro seats do an excellent job of keeping you pinned in place and even prove comfortable after a whole day of driving. They’re heated as standard, which is nothing short of bliss on a cold winter’s day.

You are acutely aware you’re in a sports car though. At a motorway cruise there’s plenty of road and wind noise while the ride is firm, if not actually uncomfortable. Still, you don’t buy something like this for a limo-like ride and refinement.

Should I buy one?

Although it is the priciest fourth-generation MX-5 yet, there's an argument that the Sport Recaro represents fair value. It may be £1000 more than Sport Nav trim, but you do get kit worth well in excess of that if bought separately. Furthermore, some of the equipment is exclusive to this limited edition.

Ultimately, if you’re tempted by the 2.0-litre Sport Nav, we’d shell out the extra £1000 for the Recaro Edition. Whether or not it makes a better sports car than the base 1.5-litre on standard suspension and smaller wheels is a whole different argument, but whichever model you go for, you’ll have a blast.

Mazda MX-5 Sport Recaro

Location Lincolnshire; On sale Now; Price £24,295; Engine 4 cyls inline, 1998cc, petrol; Power 158bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 148Ib ft at 4600rpm; Kerb weight 1075kg; Gearbox 6-spd manual; 0-62mph 7.3s; Top speed 133mph; Economy 40.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 161g/km, 27%

Join the debate

Comments
2

23 February 2016
I've always had a soft spot for these but I've never owned one. This model would make a great second car if I could afford that.

26 February 2016
It has a tougher, vaguely Cobra look about it. I like it, but I'm not sure it's what the buyers of MX5s would go for, though. As I have commented before, I have never seen one being driven hard, pretty much uniquely amongst performance orientated cars.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford S-Max Vignale
    First Drive
    24 June 2016
    The Ford S-Max Vignale is the company's premium executive express. Can it really be worth the extra over the standard S-Max?
  • Volkswagen Scirocco GTS
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Still a really fun and likeable coupé but the extra power doesn't justify the VW Scirocco GTS's high price
  • Ford Fiesta ST200
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Fresh from testing it abroad, we've just got our hands on the Ford Fiesta ST200 for a blat on UK roads
  • Alpina B4 Biturbo Convertible
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Alpina's appealing BMW M4 alternative arrives in convertible form with a more relaxed nature than BMW's M car but still impressive performance and handling
  • Infiniti QX30
    First Drive
    21 June 2016
    Likeable for its fair refinement and comfort, and that quirky rarity factor, but small inside and with merely adequate handling