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Mazda MX-5 / Miata

(1998 - 2005)  Rating

Mazda MX-5

The Mazda MX-5 / Miata is a basic sports car that's fun to drive

Engine Engine power Fuel consumption Fuel type 0-100 (0-60) Top speed
1.6i 110 hp 8.1 l/100km Petrol 9.7 s 191 km/h
1.6i 125 hp 8.1 l/100km Petrol 9.7 s 191 km/h
1.8i 140 hp 9.1 l/100km Petrol 8.0 s 205 km/h
1.8i 146 hp 9.5 l/100km Petrol 8.4 s 208 km/h

Body type Roadster
Number of doors 2
Number of seats 2
Engine position Front
Driven wheels Rear
Length 3 975 mm
Width 1 680 mm
Height 1 225 mm
Wheelbase 2 265 mm
Ground clearance 130 mm
Weight (normal) 1 035 kg
Weight (max) 1 255 kg
Boot space (min) 144 l
Boot space (max) 144 l
Fuel capacity 50 l


   The Mazda MX-5 was produced between 1998 and 2005. It is known in the USA as the Mazda Miata.

   The MX-5 comes with either a 1.6- or a 1.8-liter engine. Both employ five-speed gearboxes while the 1.8-liter is available with an optional close-ratio six-speed unit. The 1.8-liter engine is uninspiring at lower revs, but bury the throttle and the engine springs into life, bolting the little roadster to 100 km/h (62mph) in eight seconds.

   The cabin remains shake-free, so the ride is comfortable and controlled over broken surfaces. A weight-saving programme means the heavier new roadster is impressively agile. The steering is precise and full of feel, while the rear-wheel-drive chassis offers fluid handling with bags of grip.

   With the roof down, the breeze is well isolated and the high-backed sports seats help prevent draughts around the driver and passenger. Roof up, the fabric blots out wind noise well. If you do much winter motorway work, it is worth paying for the hard-top. Even with the roof down, the exhaust emits a dull drone.

   Despite a new model MX-5/Miata produced since 2005, the old Mazda MX-5 retains its value well. We expect it to hold on to at least half its new price over three years. Fuel economy is sensible for a sports car, so itís not expensive to run.

   The number of 10-year-old MX-5s you see in pristine condition should answer any doubts over durability. Theyíre super-reliable if regularly serviced. We expect the new model to be an equally hardy performer. Now the soft-top locks flat when folded, it should be less prone to snagging, and remain watertight.

   The Mazda MX-5 came with twin front and side airbags. The 2.0-litre cars add handling stability aids. An immobilizer and an alarm are fitted as standard, but any car with a canvas roof can only be so secure.

   One of the best aspects of the MX-5 is its improved driving position. With a lower-slung seat itís now far easier for taller drivers to get comfortable. The dash looks classy but some of the plastics, although durable, are not of the highest quality. All the major controls are logically laid out. There are very few storage areas for driving paraphernalia.

   This is one of the easiest-operating drop-tops in production. Simply undo the central retaining handle, lift the roof over your shoulder and, hey presto, alfresco motoring. The boot is not very wide, but the omission of a spare wheel means youíll have little trouble fitting in a couple of overnight bags.

   The Mazda MX-5/Miata is not exactly dripping with standard equipment but electric windows and mirrors and remote central locking are fitted to all versions. Trade up to the 1.8-litre model and youíll gain handling improvements and electronic driver aids. Top-of-the-range models gain leather seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and aluminum pedals.


   Advantages: Agile handling, accurate steering and one of the best gear changes in the business make the Mazda MX-5 an engaging drive. Low prices, running costs and great residuals make it a sound buy.

   Disadvantages: Wind and road noise is a problem even with the roof up, and the ride is over-firm. There are too few stowage spaces inside. Air-conditioning remains a costly option.

   Verdict: Back to basics sports car that's affordable.

   Also consider: Toyota MR2, MG TF.

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Mazda MX-5

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Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

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