16 Mazda MX-5: the most democratic roadster around

A well-balanced, affordable two-seat sports car that revels in its own simplicity

The Mazda MX5 has an engine that is almost perfectly in balance with its chassis. Photograph: Drew Gibson

The Mazda MX5 has an engine that is almost perfectly in balance with its chassis. Photograph: Drew Gibson

 

Thank god for the MX-5. Without it there would be barely an affordable, two-seat sports car on sale. Those of us who like 100km of headroom would be stuck with converted hatchbacks or forced to save up for a Porsche or Jaguar. The MX-5 remains the most democratic roadster around, and long may that last. Lighter now than it has been at any time since the 1989 original, you really don’t need an engine of any more grunt than the standard 131hp 1.5-litre SkyActiv petrol. It’s an engine almost perfectly in balance with the car’s chassis, and more grunt would just start to corrupt that balance. That said, you will be able to spec it with a more powerful 2.0-litre engine shortly, which arrives with the MX-5 RF, or “Retractable Factback” – a targa-top coupe with the coolest roof-folding mechanism this side of a Porsche 911. For all that though, the MX-5 is a car that revels in its simplicity. It’s the almost perfect combination of sweet chassis, revvy engine, snicky gearbox and lack of weight, although aesthetes and turbo fans might want to have a look at the mechanically similar but arguably prettier Fiat 124 Spider.

Price range: €27,995 to €31,495

Co2 emissions: 139g/km

Which one? Keep it simple and affordable – the 1.5 G model is fine.

PCP from €306 per month