Mazda's MX-5 gets a dog's seal of approval, but does the drop-top fare well when put to our practicality test?

With a week’s holiday booked and plenty of sun forecast, there was only one car on the fleet that would do: the MX-5. As Friday arrived, it seemed like a solid choice. The sky was blue, so the roof was dropped and my 90-minute commute became something to savour.

As Saturday dawned, I attempted to show my wife that the little Mazda was more practical than you might think. We were due at a friend’s Eurovision Song Contest party that night, so I crammed the boot with our bag, some rainbow-coloured afro wigs, platform boots, a few bottles of wine and our duvet.

While it all fitted, just, we did have one other occupant to carry: our dog, Sprocket. With no room at all behind the seats, she ended up in the passenger footwell, fighting with my wife for leg room. My practicality promise fell apart.

Despite this, the MX-5 did a convincing job of winning over both wife and dog. The former appreciated the sharp handling and good looks, while the latter seemed to enjoy the wind in her fur, especially when harnessed into the passenger seat.

But while Sprocket enjoyed herself, it took a great deal of restraint to drive in a manner that wouldn’t empty her stomach. The Mazda may not be outright fast, but the chuckable handling is an absolute delight that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

There isn’t a great deal of power, but you can enjoy feeling the rear end help to steer the car around corners at sane speeds. We’re not talking lurid slides here; you just need to wind on less steering lock than you might think.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, because a tyre pressure warning light came on. Never mind, it should be an easy fix with a compressor — or so I thought. However, a check of the pressures revealed that the tyres were properly inflated. It seems a sensor may be at fault, so a trip to the dealer is in order. Is this enough to put me off using the car again? Most definitely not.

Our Verdict

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

Fourth-generation MX-5 heads back to Mazda's roadster's roots, surpassing its predecessor in every area

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Read our previous reports

Winter tyre review 

The perfect weekend car?

First report

Mazda MX-5 2.0i SE-L Nav

Price £20,685 Price as tested £21,335 Economy 41.4mpg Faults None Expenses Four winter tyres £420, four summer tyres £440 Last seen 18.5.16

Join the debate


27 June 2016
We have had a couple of MX5s over the years. No problem fitting a child seat along with a pushchair in the boot. Our Boxer dog would happily sit in the passenger seat (I say 'happily' she's a Boxer, you can't really tell). I also managed to use it for a cycling trip to the Alps. Had to take the passenger seat out to get me bike in though...


27 June 2016
A sensor that doesn't sense accurately.

One of the dubious joys of over-specification.

27 June 2016
Agreed: another piece of needless technology grafted onto today's cars, increasing cost and complexity and just waiting to go wrong. Most people are quite capable of checking their tyre pressures regularly and in the event of a puncture whilst driving, then the results are usually pretty obvious.

27 June 2016
Spot-on, and don't get me going on Stop-Start so called tech.

1 July 2016
The tyre sensors on the new MX5 are brilliant! Mine activated...I stopped, found a nail in the tyre.

Saved the tyre, and possibly prevented an accident...well done sensors!!!

15 July 2016
The MX-5 is undoubtedly the most affordable, nimble, state-of-the-art and agile roadster that was ever built. I just love this ride. But how does it tackle the wind noise and buffeting? My drop top was so bad at handling these bogeys that there was no other option but to mount a wind blocker. But fortunately, the Backblade wind deflector is a cool equipment that keeps my cabin nice and quiet even at highway speeds!

20 August 2016
Yes, Backblade wind deflector is keeping the vices of wind noise and buffeting in check even on my Cabrio. And you are right, a good wind blocker is an inevitable equipment for most Verts.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week