ROAD TEST: Mazda MX-5 – the very definition of a sports car

How many true, affordable sports cars are on sale at the moment? If your definition of a sports car is a two seater with folding roof, affordable is a debateable point given prices at the moment, then your choice is quite limited. One of the most recognisable and unarguable examples of a sports car is Mazda’s MX-5. Launched over 30 years ago a continuous series of updates and upgrades have not dimmed the MX-5s ability to produce a fun drive despite not being an outright performance machine.

Two options are on offer, the full convertible with fabric roof or the RF which is a fully electric retractable hard top and looks more like a targa top once the magic of the powered roof has been completed. Prices start from £25,825 for the full convertible, £27,725 for the RF, and there are 1.5 and 2.0 litre petrol engines with either 6-speed manual or automatic gears.

Standard fare on the lead-in Prime-Line RF model includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto, heated seats, powered and heated door mirrors, LED headlights, air conditioning, push-button start, navigation, tyre pressure monitoring system, hill launch assist and cruise control. All Mazda MX-5 models are a snug fit in the cabin, but the finish and build quality is excellent.

In top line Homura trim the 184 hp, 2.0-litre engine produces a 6.8 second sprint to the benchmark 62 mph and on to a maximum of 137 mph (racetrack only of course). Mated to Mazda’s slick 6-speed manual gearbox, limited slip differential and rear wheel drive, it makes for entertaining motoring on twisting cross country roads. The sports suspension is a tad on the firm side over some of our rougher roads but generally draws a nice line between comfort and performance.

Additions to the standard equipment include Nappa leather trim, adaptive LED headlights, climate control, reversing camera and sensors, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror and 17” alloys. Priced at £34,510 this isn’t a cheap sports car but it’s a very grown up sports car and one which answers those who want a more refined open aired solution to fun motoring.

Depending on your interpretation the market for true sports cars is pretty small, many that are billed as such are more sports coupes, so if you are in the market for some sports car fun then Mazda’s MX-5 RF might just be one of the only ways to find it.

Words by Mark Slack

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