Review: Mazda 2.0 Roadster Coupe Top SportTec \nBy Philip Shoulder
February 22, 2013
Mazda’s evergreen MX-5 remains the perfect modern exemplar of classic roadster theme.
Unveiled in 1989, when the British appetite for roadsters was at an all-time low, Mazda’s MX-5 went onto become so successful that it spurred MGs return to the sports car market.
Designed on the premise of offering pure, undiluted driving involvement - 24 years later the basic ingredients remain: two seats, front engine rear-drive layout and minimal frills. Increases in power, comfort and safety have been introduced over the years. Third generation models were launched in 2005 and a 2009 facelift introduced a paddle shift automatic option along with styling, chassis and engine tweaks. Available in either Soft-top or Roadster Coupe foldable hard-top guise, the model lineup comprises two engines – a 124 bhp 1.8 and 158 bhp 2.0 – and four trim options. All cars get ABS and traction control, four airbags, air con and twin exhaust tailpipes.
The MX-5s cosy cabin imbues a classic sports car feel.
Quality of fit and finish is high.
Although relatively basic, the upright dash blends retro looks with modern functionality. Comfort is excellent for both occupants, and the driving position is spot on, too.
Being a two-seater, there’s not a great deal of storage space, although cup holders can be found both in the centre armrest and door pockets.
The 150 litre rear boot makes up for lack of volume with ease of access and can hold a couple of overnight bags.
Right from the off, MX-5 impresses with its duality of being easily to live with everyday transport one minute and a full-out sports car the next: steering, throttle, brakes and gear change are wonderfully precise and communicative.
All models offer go-kart handling, but Sport Tec models are even sharper, thanks to Bilstein dampers, front suspension strut brace and a Limited Slip Differential.
Despite the fun on offer, MX-5 boasts a smooth supple ride, although Sport Tecs are firmer.
Refinement isn’t a strong point however, with a fair bit of road and wind roar being apparent. On the motorway noise levels are particularly intrusive.
Consequently, Mazda’s little roadster is best enjoyed on twisty B roads with roof down – a process taking only 12 seconds with Coupe Top models – where the sense of openness and wind-in-the-hair further crank up the fun factor.
It’s only a pity that the satisfyingly sporty engine note isn’t matched by a more intoxicating soundtrack from the twin exhausts.
The close ratio 6-speed gearbox helps to keep you in the power band for faster progress, although the strong 2.0 litre engine is impressively tractable across the rev range.
MX-5 is one of the best-selling sports cars of all time, and for good reason. It combines full-out fun and driver engagement with comfort, everyday usability and reliability. This third generation Roadster Coupe SportTec is the ultimate incarnation of Mazda’s best known model, but any variant comes highly recommended. MX-5 is useable all year round, although being a roadster - values are ruled by season - so now is a great time to buy.
|New: £18,495 - £23,595|
|Used: £5,000 - £15,000|
|Model tested:2.0 Roadster Coupe Top SportTec NAV|
|Engine: In-line 4-cylinder DOHC|
|Max Power:158 bhp at 7000 rpm|
|Max Torque: 188 Nm at 5000 rpm|
|Transmission: 6-speed manual|
|Max Speed: 136 mph|
|Acceleration: 0-62 mph 7.9sec|
|MPG (combined): 36.2 mpg|
|CO2 emissions: (g/km) 181g/km|