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.