RE: 2022 Mazda MX-5 (ND) | PH Review

RE: 2022 Mazda MX-5 (ND) | PH Review

Tuesday 10th May

2022 Mazda MX-5 (ND) | PH Review

Mazda says it has altered the MX-5 in a way you probably won't notice. Obviously we had to try it


No doubt about it, seven years of MX-5 ND production has flown. No generation of Mazda’s two-seat roadster nameplate was ever short-lived, but even the first (and most famous) NA variant only clocked up eight years at the sales coalface before being replaced by the NB. The current model will have to carry the torch a good deal longer than that, it seems; Mazda has tacitly confirmed that the MX-5 will still retain a place in its product line-up come 2030 - but in the meantime the manufacturer must consider how best to electrify it. No small challenge given the firm’s admirable devotion to minimising mass wherever possible.  

Of course, the ND has already been treated to one significant update. Four years ago, Mazda overhauled the 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G engine with the express aim of extracting more power from the naturally-aspirated unit. Thanks to upgraded camshafts, exhaust valves, fuel injectors, throttle valve and air intake, where once there was 160hp, there was suddenly 184hp. Not a prodigious amount perhaps in the grand scheme of things, although handy enough to reduce the 0-62mph time by nearly a second.  

In comparison, the model revision for 2022 is no more than a tweak. Digging impressively deep into the marketing phrase book, Mazda has come up with something called Kinematic Posture Control. Specifically that means the car is now capable of applying a minuscule amount of brake pressure to the inner rear wheel during cornering, with the intention of suppressing body roll. Because we’re mostly talking about software code here, the feature is deployed range-wide, meaning there’s no categorical need to fork out £30,360 for the 2.0-litre Sport Tech trim driven here if you’re simply in it for KPC boasting rights.  

Nevertheless, we suggest you do. The entry-level 132hp 1.5-litre version has its interesting quirks, no doubt - but with paint-drying slowness still among them, it isn’t really recommendable unless you’re definitively unconcerned with pushing on. We can double down on that advice in good conscience because its punchier brother could hardly be said to deliver knock-out blows to your solar plexus when the lights turn green. No need to labour the point - the MX-5 has never, ever been sold on the basis of searing straight-line speed (it is precisely this facet which keeps firms like BBR GTI in business), and the 2.0-litre motor is perfectly fine, amenable even when you consider how well-matched it is with the chassis. But a Porsche Boxster it ain’t.  

Would we really want it to be? Probably not. Although perhaps it’s worth reiterating just how unlikely the MX-5’s constituent parts seem when viewed close-up in 2022. Longstanding familiarity might have taken the edge off, but it’s not until one is parked back outside that you recall just how pocket-sized and low-to-the ground Mazda’s roadster really is. Two adults comprehensively brim the tiny cabin, and, if either of them are middle aged, getting in and out will likely be punctuated by the spine-troubling groans. If both have arrived with a beverage, you’ll have already exceeded the car’s capacity to accommodate cups.  

If you’re above average in size, it is conceivable that you will have exceeded the car’s capacity to accommodate people, too. Your correspondent is 5’8” on a good day. Alongside a Caterham 7 and an economy airline seat, the MX-5 is one of the few places that suggest this is plenty tall enough. And while the interior is generally an object lesson in natty design, you won’t appreciate having to fold your arm back to fiddle with the infotainment controller, nor use a conventional handbrake when Mazda might have saved some much-needed space by fitting an electric one.  

Naturally, a diehard MX-5 fan would tell you to stop whinging and get driving, and that’s a fair point. Because once you’re settled and have dealt with the fabric roof in a single gratifying sweep of the wrist, the reasoning behind the sardine packaging is crystal clear. Driving the current MX-5 is like going outside in shorts and t-shirt after spending six months wearing thermals and an overcoat. It beguiles you with ease of use and a newfound appreciation of your surroundings. Obviously it helps if the sun is shining - but even without it, the tiny dimensions and modest control weights make for a very easy steer. As it has done for generations, the little Mazda still has an uncanny way of alleviating the impression that driving - even the in-traffic, slow-speed stuff - is an inconvenience.  

Presented with an open road, it duly ramps up the pleasure. It needs no additional mode or setting to do this, you simply drive a bit quicker. Once at the national speed limit, all previous misgivings about the MX-5 are a distant memory. Mazda’s insistence that the ND be as close to metric tonne as possible pays dividends everywhere; certainly it accounts for the carte blanche attitude to suspension tuning, the wheels being permitted an incredible amount of obstacle-defying leeway. As ever, you bob along on top of a terrible B-road in an MX-5, blithely aware of its challenges, but not hindered by them one little bit.  

And the KPC? Well, let’s just say you’d need to have driven the old model very recently to appreciate a significant difference. Back-to-back, ideally. Mazda would argue that’s a good thing - it says it wasn’t looking to dramatically alter the MX-5’s character - and we’re inclined to agree. If the car is very marginally flatter through a fast corner, then great, but the vast majority of buyers won’t need to obsess about the tweak. Certainly there’s no additional temptation to become better acquainted with the model’s (admittedly very approachable) limit. The real joy is still located in the MX-5’s capacity for conveying raw driving pleasure at moderate, hair-ruffling speeds. In this respect, it remains a wonderful achievement - one that its maker will almost certainly struggle to replicate when retirement finally beckons. 


Specification | 2022 Mazda MX-5 (ND) 

Engine: 1,998cc, four-cyl, naturally aspirated
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 184 @ 7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 151 @ 4,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.5secs 
Top speed: 136mph
Weight: 1,052kg (DIN)
MPG: 40.9
CO2: 155g/km
Price: £29,400 (price as tested: £30,210) 

Author
Discussion

911r

Original Poster:

55 posts

2 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
Aggressive radio aerial.

rjfp1962

5,385 posts

50 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
911r said:
Aggressive radio aerial.
Mine was replaced with a stubby as soon as I got the car..! smile

Byker28i

41,993 posts

194 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
Reviewer moans about a proper handbrake? It's one of the reasons I have two Mazdas

Demonix

273 posts

189 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
So as the 2022my is negligibly different you may as well source a used ND and whip it up to BBR for fettling and have spare change for tyres and fuel, job done!

sledge68

495 posts

174 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
As it hasn't got MX5 on every flat surface, 400 bhp and 52 million colours for the pin striped interior lighting, i am out.

Pflanzgarten

248 posts

2 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
Road cars can be faster, they just don’t need to be-always the beauty of the MX-5.

Sheesh, inflation though! My last of the line NC 2.0 sport nav tech was £16,250 after discounts in 2016, even now I had these at less than £25k new.

SweptVolume

842 posts

70 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
911r said:
Aggressive radio aerial.
I have an ND and I seem to recall the handbook suggesting you should remove the aerial when the car is parked in public clap

phil_cardiff

5,841 posts

185 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
Do the NCs and NDs still rust like the old ones?

God I miss my 5. I could probably get another as a 2nd car but it would spend 99% of the year sitting under a car cover, rusting in the sea air.

Iamnotkloot

729 posts

124 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
I've got an NA, which is a pretty little thing but I really like the modern looks of the ND. Seen a few up close and I still rate their looks. A BBR tweaked one would be fab.

robinandcamera

246 posts

157 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
Pflanzgarten said:
Road cars can be faster, they just don’t need to be-always the beauty of the MX-5.

Sheesh, inflation though! My last of the line NC 2.0 sport nav tech was £16,250 after discounts in 2016, even now I had these at less than £25k new.
That and taxation. I got my 30th edition (for some reason they couldn't shift them here even though they sold out in hours in the US!) for 24 in 2019. At the time the dealer said don't miss the boat, in 2020 the retail is going up due to emissions taxes.

cidered77

1,336 posts

174 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
Great car these - got one for my Dad 3 and a bit years ago, and drove it a bit myself, and it was fantastic. Same feel as the older MX5s, but finally didn't feel slow..

But - 30 grand now? i paid just under 25 after discounts.... inflation affects everything i guess, but does it put it in range of a lot of serious hot hatchbacks. which do compete with this car even if on paper they don't.

cidered77

1,336 posts

174 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
phil_cardiff said:
Do the NCs and NDs still rust like the old ones?

God I miss my 5. I could probably get another as a 2nd car but it would spend 99% of the year sitting under a car cover, rusting in the sea air.
NCs can still rust if not looked after properly, but generally are light years ahead of the NA and NB, where sill rust and repair is an absolute inevitability, rather than just a "risk if you have a bad one", as with the NC. ND no idea, but have to assume its an improvement again...

am currently turning a 2009/105k mile car into a racecar, and whilst i've got a bit of surface rust here and there and some camber bolts seized solid (need cutting out), absolutely nothing structural at all with rust.

NC is a much overlooked car and really good bet for summer fun car i think... good value.

NGK210

1,724 posts

122 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
It's disappointing that there's an underlying tone of contempt in this article, for what is a purpose-built RWD sports car with 'lightweighting' at the core of its design.

Meanwhile, PH seems to be devoting ever-increasing bandwidth to SUVs. Oh dear.

cerb4.5lee

22,826 posts

157 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
rjfp1962 said:
911r said:
Aggressive radio aerial.
Mine was replaced with a stubby as soon as I got the car..! smile
I replaced mine with a stubby almost straight away on the 370Z Roadster too. The only problem now is that the radio doesn't work anymore! Not that I'm bothered though...because the exhaust makes all of the noise that I need! cool

I really love this generation of MX-5, and I love the shape and all the nice details with the design. Plus they have a very good turn of pace now as well. driving

flukey5

320 posts

37 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
cidered77 said:
phil_cardiff said:
Do the NCs and NDs still rust like the old ones?

God I miss my 5. I could probably get another as a 2nd car but it would spend 99% of the year sitting under a car cover, rusting in the sea air.
NCs can still rust if not looked after properly, but generally are light years ahead of the NA and NB, where sill rust and repair is an absolute inevitability, rather than just a "risk if you have a bad one", as with the NC. ND no idea, but have to assume its an improvement again...

am currently turning a 2009/105k mile car into a racecar, and whilst i've got a bit of surface rust here and there and some camber bolts seized solid (need cutting out), absolutely nothing structural at all with rust.

NC is a much overlooked car and really good bet for summer fun car i think... good value.
Adjusting for age, NBs are worse than NAs on account of the extra layer of steel in much of the structure causing moisture to get trapped. I've seen some rusty NCs but no rusty NDs yet.

flukey5

320 posts

37 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
NGK210 said:
It's disappointing that there's an underlying tone of contempt in this article, for what is a purpose-built RWD sports car with 'lightweighting' at the core of its design.

Meanwhile, PH seems to be devoting ever-increasing bandwidth to SUVs. Oh dear.
Agreed - since when was a manual handbrake a bad thing? I don't see anyone doing handbrake turns with an electric one...

Triumph Man

7,789 posts

145 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
flukey5 said:
NGK210 said:
It's disappointing that there's an underlying tone of contempt in this article, for what is a purpose-built RWD sports car with 'lightweighting' at the core of its design.

Meanwhile, PH seems to be devoting ever-increasing bandwidth to SUVs. Oh dear.
Agreed - since when was a manual handbrake a bad thing? I don't see anyone doing handbrake turns with an electric one...
There really does seem to be a trend of "ooo tech good". Who cares if it's got a manual handbrake? My Discovery has an electronic one, and I live in constant fear of it breaking. Less is more, especially with something like this.

stickleback123

8,734 posts

166 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
A reviewer genuinely suggesting that an MX5 should have an electronic handbrake suggests he is either trolling us or would be more in their element reviewing a compact crossover with a nice big touchscreen.

The car is great, a superb (and now unique) balance of fun, just enough practicality and comfort, performance, and low purchase price and running costs, but as others have mentioned the price has gone up dramatically in recent years and you can't get much of a discount over list at the moment either.

Mine was £23k brand new in September 2019 and the dealer won't come below £30k now - 30% in less than three years.

TREMAiNE

3,471 posts

126 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
I presume these have electric steering and not hydraulic?

If that's the case, how much feel do these really have? I had an NA and loved it, but it was nowhere as communicative as some people think they are.
I'd really like an ND, on paper it's perfect, but I can't help but feel that the steering will feel a bit vague and unresponsive, even if the chassis itself is well sorted.

cidered77

1,336 posts

174 months

Tuesday 10th May
quotequote all
on the handbrake thing - has any human being (who has any even remote interest in cars) ever in the history of the world ever ever said "ooo, i wish this car had one of those annoying handbrake buttons that activate either with a press, or a pull (but always the opposite of what you assume) and either does or does not automatically switch itself off when you move forward... rather than this nice handle i can also use to do the occasional skid"....?