Time for two very different takes on the hot-hatch formula to face off
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The Top Gear car review:Mazda MX-5
For:The same as it’s always been. Just, better than it’s ever been before
Against:Ask us again about that new front end...
2.0 SE-L 2dr
We’ve already tried – and loved – the semi-skimmed MX-5. How does it fare in full-fat, 158bhp guise?
The fourth generation Mazda MX-5 made Hammond a happy boy last night. Here’s the TG verdict
Lightly updated MX-5 is pretty much exactly as it always was. Old, simple and still rather lovely
Mid-life overhaul makes the finest little roadster even more desirable. Embrace your inner metrosexual. Go on.
The same, but just a bit better. A few gentle revisions to the MX-5 keep it at the top of the small-rear-drive-roadster pile.
What we say:
The world’s best selling roadster is all-new. But don’t worry. Mazda hasn’t dropped the ball...
What is it?
You know perfectly well what this is – the car that, 25 years ago, made motoring fun again. And now it’s entering its fourth generation, and still the basic package hasn’t changed. At all. No fashionable turbos or trendy hybrid systems, no double-clutch gearbox, not even an electric roof. Just a simple two seat soft-top with a compact four cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox.
Don’t think this is Mazda being lazy, though. Not only is the MX-5 genuinely brand new from the ground up (chassis, suspension, engine, cabin, bodywork, everything), but it’s bucked the usual new car trend by being smaller than the last one and, impressively, over 100kg lighter.
Mazda has lasered in on the really important things with the new MX-5. Important things like the driving. And, oh boy, is it good. We know what you’re thinking, “it’s only got a 1.5-litre engine with 129bhp, it hasn’t got enough power to get out of its own way”. But in a car that weighs less than a tonne, we promise you that’s enough. The SKYACTIV-G engine is torquey, sounds great and is well matched to the chassis. Which is a honey.
It dances along difficult roads, the new MX-5. OK, we’d like a drop more steering feel if we’re being really picky, but the chassis itself is plenty communicative, the ride is good and it’s more refined than you’d think. It’s an absolute peach. It’s proves there’s a joy in simple things. Heavens, even changing gear is bliss.
On the inside
The styling may have a new found edge of aggression (we’re not sure about those squinty headlights), but the cabin is just great. It’s the quality and ergonomics that strike you first. The way things are so easy to operate, and sited where you expect to find them. The seats are comfy, the boot is surprisingly deep, the headlights are strong, the sat nav (if you option it) is intuitive and there’s more space in the cockpit than you expect. It even feels well screwed together from materials you don’t mind touching. It’s a real step forward.
No headaches here either. We got 50mpg on a gentle drive, 40mpg everywhere else. For a sports car, that’s little short of remarkable. It’ll hold its value well, be cheap to run and insure and while emissions of 139g/km aren’t exceptionally low, an annual tax bill of only £130 isn’t too alarming. There’s a 2.0-litre version coming as well, but even though it doesn’t arrive in dealers until June, we’d recommend you get your order in now – this one’s going to sell like hot cakes. Deservedly so, too: Mazda, your world record roadster sales status is safe.