Engine refinements make the iconic Mazda MX-5 a seriously desirable device for people who love driving.
You have the choice of two engines – there’s a four-cylinder, 132hp 1.5-litre unit or a 184hp 2.0-litre engine powers the top-of-the-range models. The 1.5’s power output may sound very modest for a modern sports car, but in such a light car it still offers sprightly performance. Whichever engine you go for, the Mazda MX-5’s manual gearshift is brilliant, offering short, light and positive shifts. There’s the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox, but it isn’t worth it unless absolutely necessary because you’ll want to be as involved in the driving as possible when it’s this good.
Both engines are impressively frugal given the MX-5’s sporting intent – the 1.5 offering an official combined figure of around 45mpg and the 2.0 not much worse at 41mpg. In both cars, achieving an mpg figure in the high 30s is easy stuff in the real world.
The MX-5’s steering is now an electrically assisted setup but it’s still really good, being quick but feeling naturally weighted, and communicating the necessary information to give the driver confidence.
Unlike the 1.5, the 2.0 model comes a limited slip differential for better deployment of power through corners, while higher spec models get stiffer sports suspension. As such, the 1.5 rolls a little more as it barrels through bends, but never to the extent that it detriments the driving experience.
Putting the roof down in the cloth-roof car requires unclipping it at the top of the windscreen and simply pushing it back behind you until it locks down with a click.