Is the Mazda MX5 still the best affordable sports car?
The sports car; an idea that has truly embedded itself in our hearts. The concept of driving a machine designed and built with true passion made with the ability to stir true emotion in every man, woman, and child’s hearts and minds, and to make us drive for the opportunity to have to go. It’s something so primordial and elemental that connects with our inner child. It’s a connection between man and machine like a mother with her child. One car that has been the most successful at this, and been the most successful sports car in history, being produced from 1989 it is, of course, the Mazda MX5 (Miata for the Americans out there).
The MX5 has never been the fastest of all cars, but what made it so successful was its incredible raw handling coupled with its comfort, usability and very graceful looks. The new version is certainly not holding back in the looks department. With its pert bottom that has been superbly hunched over its rear wheels like a cheetah preparing to hunt, the silhouette still has the iconic roadster lines that almost beckons you to run your hand down the body, and the front end has been perfectly sculpted to capture the essence of the MX5.
The engine in the MX5 that I experienced was the 2.0L, 184HP naturally aspirated engine. Unlike the Abarth/Fiat 124 Spider I previously reviewed, Mazda is sticking to its guns in regards to the turbo despite quite a few calls for this particular upgrade. After rinsing it through the gears it is obvious that the upgrade is unnecessary. The acceleration is progressive, the gear change is extremely satisfying and when you get the timing correct the car almost seems to thank you by rewarding you with what appears like extra speed. You could be a terrible driver but this car will make you feel like Lewis Hamilton due to the addition of the mechanical LSD (Limited Slip Differential) giving a much greater scope of control and speed in cornering. This is clinically a great handling car.
The interior of this car is really good quality. It does have all of the most intelligent systems as the high end sports cars like the Porsches and Mercedes-Benz cars, but that was never the point in the sports car. It has everything you will need like DAB, Sat Nav, Cup-Holders, climate control and Bluetooth and that’s about it. In a small sports car like this it’s all about lightness; extra equipment means extra weight which means worse handling so I personally class all of this as a big plus. In its main rival, the Abarth, there are a lot more soft touch plastics so appears to be of a slightly better quality. Unfortunately in the Mazda, this makes it feel a bit cheaper.
I stand by what I wrote in my Abarth/Fiat 124 Spider review: I do believe that the manual 124 is a better car. It feels more personal and premium than the Mazda. I also believe that the 124 is a lot prettier than the Mazda, which is why I bought a Fiat 124 Spider. That doesn’t change the fact that this is a great car, and in fact both are. We are lucky to live in a time where we have two companies producing two incredibly designed cars purely for fun because lets face it, that’s the only reason you buy a sports car. There are lots of cars that are faster, lots are cheaper and lots have more space, but sports cars are the only ones that play to the core principles behind sports cars: they are fun. Ferdinand Porsche said “The last car ever to be built will be a sports car.” This is a statement that every car fan will agree with. The whole reason for these to be produced is because of the passion of man, and the Mazda MX5 and Fiat/Abarth 124 Spider are the best ones out there. So if you want a sports car then I personally would recommend the 124 Spider but the MX5 is also brilliant. Try both! No matter which you pick you will have a fantastic car.