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First drive: 2022 Mazda MX-5. Image by Mazda.

First drive: 2022 Mazda MX-5
Weíve already sampled the brilliant new MX-5 in retractable fastback form, but now weíre putting the soft-top to the test.

   



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2022 Mazda MX-5

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The current-generation Mazda MX-5, known as the 'ND' to enthusiasts, hasn't changed much since it was launched in 2015. But then it hasn't had to, because it's absolutely outstanding. However, Mazda has made a few minor tweaks, including the fitment of a new system that brakes the inside wheels in corners for extra agility. We've tried the 2022 car in folding hard-top form, but now it's the turn of the one everyone wants: the roadster.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Tech (GT Sport Tech pictured)
Price: MX-5 from £27,625
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power: 184hp
Torque: 205Nm
Emissions: 155g/km
Economy: 40.9mpg
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 136mph
Boot space: 130 litres

Styling

The current-generation Mazda MX-5, known as the ĎNDí to enthusiasts, hasnít changed much since it was launched in 2015. But then it hasnít had to, because itís absolutely outstanding. However, Mazda has made a few minor tweaks, including the fitment of a new system that brakes the inside wheels in corners for extra agility. Weíve tried the 2022 car in folding hard-top form, but now itís the turn of the one everyone wants: the roadster.

Interior

As with the exterior, it isn't easy to tell that the MX-5 has been revamped when you step inside the cabin. That said, there wasn't much wrong with the old car's interior. The materials are still as brilliant as they were before, and all the panels fit together as neatly as they might in a Mercedes. The switchgear is generally good, too, and the MX-5 feels more premium than the sub-£26,000 starting price might suggest.

But while the design and the build quality remains top-notch, the Mazda infotainment system is feeling a little dated. It has been updated a little, and the rotary control on the centre console makes it easier to use on the move, but it isn't the prettiest system on the market. Thankfully, the inclusion of the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration systems as standard help a little on that front.

Practicality

Naturally, a two-seat roadster is unlikely to be a practical choice, but the soft-top MX-5 is the more practical of the two MX-5 variants. With the roof up, thereís a smidge more headroom, but taller drivers might still struggle to get comfortable. Itíll be especially troublesome for those who want to carry lots of luggage, because the MX-5 doesnít have much boot space at all. With 130 litres of capacity, itís difficult to squeeze much in Ė not least because the opening is small and the boot shape is awkward. Still, the soft-top has an extra three litres of overall space than the RF, and soft bags with a bit of give in them will make packing easier.

Performance

The MX-5 hasnít always been a fast car Ė most previous versions would be left for dust by hot hatchbacks Ė but the new 2.0-litre engine offers quite a turn of pace. With 184hp at the disposal of the driverís right foot and a six-speed manual gearbox, sprinting from 0-62mph takes a sporting 6.5 seconds and the top speed is 136mph. Thatís brisk, rather than rapid, but itís an improvement on the 1.5-litre engine, which takes 8.3 seconds to get to 62mph.

Both engines are efficient, topping 40mpg without too much trouble, but the 1.5-litre engine is slightly more economical. Officially, it returns just under 45mpg compared with just over 40mpg for the 2.0-litre, and both cars are easily capable of beating those figures on a long run.

Ride & Handling

Because it's light and the power all goes to the rear wheels, the MX-5 is a delight to drive. Nothing else on the market feels this nimble or this balanced, and very few cars feel anything like this intuitive. It's old-school sports car stuff, but the MX-5 achieves it with modern technology. The 2.0-litre versions come with their own stiffer suspension system and a limited-slip differential, which means there's more traction when accelerating. There's also a new Kinematic Posture Control (KPC) system, which brakes the inside wheels slightly in corners and drags the car around. The effects are subtle, but it feels very natural and the car turns in brilliantly.

Part of the brilliance comes from the driving position, which is pretty much spot on, and the gearbox, which has a snappy manual shift that makes it more fun to wring the engine out. The 1.5-litre engine is the more comfortable option, because the 2.0-litre's stiffer suspension provides more body control at the expense of ride control.

Value

The MX-5 starts at £25,725, which pays for the basic SE-L model with the 1.5-litre petrol engine, making the roadster £1,900 cheaper than the equivalent RF. Although the 1.5-litre engine might sound weedy, it's more than sufficient for most customers, and the SE-L trim still comes with alloy wheels, heated seats and climate control. Our Sport Tech test car gets the 2.0-litre engine and sports suspension as standard, as well as leather seats, blind-spot monitoring and a handy reversing camera. The GT Sport Tech pictured only adds BBS wheels, Light Stone leather and piano black door mirrors.

Verdict

The latest version of the Mazda MX-5 is the best yet, but only by a whisker. The changes are barely noticeable, so don't be disheartened if you've just taken delivery of a 2021 car. Whichever model year you choose, you can rest assured you have one of the best sports cars on the market. And the 2.0-litre soft-top roadster remains the pick of the bunch.



James Fossdyke - 2 Sep 2022



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2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.

2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.2022 Mazda MX-5 2.0 GT Sport Tech. Image by Mazda.







 

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