It’s 25 years since the original Mazda MX-5 went on sale in the UK. In that time, not only has it become the best-selling two-seat roadster in history but it’s also won huge acclaim with motoring journalists and enthusiasts alike.
So if you’re tasked with creating the new model, do you start from scratch or do you build upon what you’ve already got? Mazda has done a bit of both.
This fourth-generation car is all-new but still very much an MX-5. It gets a brand new rear-wheel drive chassis and a choice of two new petrol engines: the 2.0-litre unit that we’re running and a less powerful but still fun 1.5. But it’s still got the all-important MX-5 DNA.
MX-5 programme manager Nobuhiro Yamamoto told us there are five key characteristics that make up an MX-5: rear-wheel drive with a front-mid engine layout, 50/50 weight distribution, minimal ‘yaw inertia’ (how quickly it changes direction), a low kerb weight and affordability. This new model, he said, excels in each area.
For me, the two traits that are most impressive are the low kerb weight and the continued affordability. As cars get safer, faster and more high-tech, the tendency has been for them to get bigger, heavier and more expensive. The MX-5 totally bucks the trend. It’s shorter than any MX-5 that’s gone before, it weighs just over a tonne thanks to some clever weight-saving techniques and it starts at just £18,495, which is astonishingly good value for something this capable.
You’ll notice that our car has come in at nearly £3000 over that starting price. That’s mostly because we’ve gone for the more powerful 2.0-litre model, which isn’t available in entry-level SE trim. We’ve actually chosen SE-L Nav trim — adding £1350 to the starting price — which comes with the touchscreen infotainment system from the Mazda 3, sat-nav, climate control, cruise control, DAB, Bluetooth and two speakers in the driver’s headrest.