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Mazda MX-5 Roadster Coupe review: 3.5/5

It's the Mazda MX-5's 20th anniversary; we took a trip down memory lane in the latest folding hardtop version.

Shane O' Donoghue

Words: Shane O' Donoghue - @Shane_O_D

Published on: June 22, 2010

Words: Shane O' Donoghue - @Shane_O_D

Published on: June 22, 2010

Friday June 4

Having not driven an MX-5 for a while the very first thing that strikes me is the immediacy of all of the controls. There is zero slack in the steering, gearchange, clutch, throttle pedal or brakes. This really makes the driver feel part of the experience, regardless of the speed you're driving at and it highlights just how detached from the driving experience we are in most regular cars.

The folding hardtop of the Roadster Coupé model is a technical marvel. It folds in only 12 seconds and doesn't interfere with the boot space when stowed. Nitpicking, it would be even better if it wasn't necessary to manually unlatch the front of the roof from the windscreen rail, but that's probably a cost-saving exercise.

Saturday June 5

Browsing Mazda Ireland's website it looks like the MX-5 is only available here with the 1.8-litre engine, while it's offered with a 2.0-litre unit in other markets. Although the MX-5 is quite light there's a noticeable lack of urge low down the rev range, with the engine not coming alive until about 3,500 - 4,000rpm. Even then it'd struggle to keep up with a good turbodiesel hatchback.

However, more time at the wheel suggests that outright speed is certainly not what the MX-5 is about. It's enjoyable to drive and it handles with delicacy. Unlike more powerful roadsters it can be enjoyed without risking your licence.

Sunday June 6

Enjoyable as this car is it's beginning to show its age inside. The latest Mazda6 for instance feels like a major step up in terms of quality and the MX-5 isn't brilliantly equipped. I'm torn on that topic though, as the MX-5 is traditionally the cheap and cheerful sports car with no frills. I suspect most buyers want more now though. The lack of air conditioning for instance seems a little stingy and there are no traction or stability control systems.

Monday June 7

Time to give the MX-5 back. A price of €25,495 seems reasonable enough, even taking into consideration the lack of equipment. The fabric-roofed version is a full €2,000 less, though the Roadster Coupé is arguably better suited to our climate - and I think it looks better too. There are very few rivals for the Mazda in Ireland right now. The Peugeot 207 CC and Opel Tigra are similarly priced, but very different cars.

Mazda MX-5 1.8i Roadster Coupé:

  • Engine: 1,798cc four-cylinder petrol
  • Maximum power: 126hp at 6,500rpm
  • Maximum torque: 167Nm at 4,500rpm
  • Acceleration (0-100km/h): 9.9 seconds
  • Max speed: 194km/h
  • Fuel economy (combined cycle): 7.0 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions: 167g/km
  • Motor tax band: D
  • Annual road tax: €447
  • Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €25,495