RE: Mazda MX-5 RF: PH Trade-Off!

RE: Mazda MX-5 RF: PH Trade-Off!

Sunday 6th January

Mazda MX-5 RF: PH Trade-Off!

What can you get for half the price of Matt's MX-5 that'll offer all the thrills - and just as much usability? Hmm...



In those brief moments over the Christmas period when you took a break from stuffing your face to look at your favourite motoring website, you'll doubtless have spotted our comparo of MX-5s old and new. All good fun, and of course, an opportunity for Mr Bird's long-termer to show itself in its best light.

But the thing is, while the MX-5 is still a (relatively speaking) cheap sports car, Matt's is quite an expensive version, costing a not-inconsiderable Β£27,795. So once again, we've been roving through the classifieds to see if we can't find a used option that does everything Matt's MX-5 can for half the price. "And don't just find something fun," said the editor. "That's too easy. You've got to find something that's can match the RF's everyday usability, too." Eep.


That proviso rather scuppered what was going to be our first choice, tempting though this Vauxhall VX220 Turbo may have been. Gloriously yellow with reasonable miles and, by the sounds of things, with lots of attentive work done by people who know what they're doing under its belt, it's about as good as they come and should plaster a stupid grin across your face for hours on end. But let's face it, while the braver souls would doubtless give it a try, as an everyday proposition the VX220 is quite a way from what the MX-5 offers. We'll have to let it go, then - this time.

Perhaps instead we should be looking for something with a retractable hard-top roof, like the RF's? That cuts your choices down drastically, admittedly, but the BMW Z4 might be worth a look. The outright power of this sDrive 30i blows even the uprated ND into the weeds. What's more, there's a rather lovely interior, more room inside and a roof that folds away fully - rather than leaving a the rear window and buttresses behind.

Trouble is, while the Z4 might look the part, it's never been anywhere near as sharp or involving to drive as an MX-5. That's a problem the six-speed auto on this example certainly won't help with. So while this Z4 might have everyday viability sewn up, it falls down somewhat on matching the MX-5 where it matters most - fun.


What we need, therefore, is something that falls mid-way between the VX220 and the Z4. Something that'll give you the fizz, but also get you to work in reasonable comfort every day - and be quick and easy to make watertight. Enter this week's half-price hero: the Honda S2000. This one, to be precise.

Granted, there are some compromises to be had. Chief among those being that this S2000 is - prepare to be made to feel old - almost 15 years of age now, rendering almost any comparison with a brand-new MX-5 utterly spurious. But stick with us for a sec, because there are some very good reasons why it's here.

Firstly, its age is mitigated somewhat by its reliability. S2000s are famed for the way they keep going, needing little in the way of repairs other than regular perishable bits, regardless of how much abuse you give them. And with its low mileage, it's hard to imagine this one giving you any grief for the foreseeable future.


What's more, the S2000's layout matches the MX-5's exactly: front-mid-engined, rear-wheel drive, two seats, manual gearbox. A recipe for entertainment, in other words. And as this example's a post-facelift, it'll be a darn sight less twitchy and more accessible than an early car would be. And all of this goes without mentioning the S2000's centrepiece: that glorious 2.0-litre engine with its famously stratospheric redline, potent enough that it'll show even a 2019 MX-5 a clean pair of heels.

This example is perhaps a touch on the pricey side, but the advert makes all the right noises. There's a full history, a clear HPI certificate, both keys, two new rear tyres and a recent service. And it's a GT, so while you'll have to put up with a fabric roof, you do at least get a hardtop with which you can add security and warmth during the winter months, should you so choose.

Consider this, too: buy the MX-5 and its value will plummet. S2000 prices, by contrast, have been rising in recent years. So while it'd be overstating things to think of this as an investment purchase, you certainly won't lose anywhere near as much as you will on a brand-new RF. So not only is the S2000 half the price, more powerful, just as entertaining and every bit as usable - well, almost - it also makes even makes more financial sense. We're sold.



SPECIFICATION - MAZDA MX-5 SKYACTIV-G 2.0 (ND)

Engine: 1,998cc, 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 184@ 7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 151@4,000rpm
0-62mph: 6.8sec
Top speed: 137mph
Weight: 1,148kg (with 75kg driver)
MPG: 40.9
CO2: 156g/km
Price: Β£27,795

SPECIFICATION - HONDA S2000

Engine: 1,997cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 240@8,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 162@6,500rpm
0-62mph: 6.2 sec
Top speed: 150mph
Weight: 1,285kg
MPG: 28.2
CO2: 237
Price: Β£13,250

Author
Discussion

Addymk2

Original Poster:

305 posts

120 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Z4M. Close thread.

NorthernSky

481 posts

65 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Addymk2 said:
Z4M. Close thread.
This.

Got to say though, as a fan of the first and second gen mx5's and having owned several of them, the PH summary of the s2000 as an alternative makes a strong case as well. Depreciation proof, far more involving, atmospheric, raw... 240 N/A horsepowers available. Why wouldn't you get one if you've a budget up to 20k for one of the latest '5s?

Awesome cars.

Iamnotkloot

292 posts

95 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
I agree the S2000 is awesome but aren’t they pretty twitchy compared to the MX5’s transparent handling? For that reason I’d say that the Honda is a more hardcore choice.
What about a Boxster? Loads about for 13k ish; practical and sporty; very easy to drive in the wet despite being mid engined.

MalcolmSmith

342 posts

23 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
The S2000 is a fine car, but its handling is a lot more of a handful than the Mazda, and as its engine burns oil, you never know how low it got under previous owners and how many miles you are this away from a full rebuild.

In my opinion, the only real alternative to an MX5 is another MX5, its in a zone all of its own where its power is matched to its capabilities and its handling is very adjustable on the limit - assuming the suspension and all the bushes are good.

The Z, S2000, Boxster, MR2 etc. Are all quite different, depends what you are looking for.

Deanymini

3 posts

72 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Much rather have a VX220 all day long. Or for the badge snobs (myself included to some degree!) you could get a mk1 or 2 Elise for that kind of money.

WJNB

2,114 posts

109 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
I came from a concours mildly tuned Mk1 MX-5 to what was my dream sports car a brand new 2006 Honda S2000 in which I hoped to do some extensive UK travelling.
The Honda was cumbersome in comparison, nudging 6' tall ( or whatever that height is in foreign metric ) the drivers seat set too high even at its lowest setting, no steering wheel adjustment, lack of relaxing cruise control & in 6th having to always want a higher gear was an utter pain. In fact the gear ratios were rubbish forever having to stir the box to make it go quickly. Dam dangerous in the wet unless I was happy to just bumble along.
Many are now in the hands of the lower orders, happy to pay excessive road tax & Chav them with stupid modifications to hoon round local estates.
But good unmolested ones are about, look nice & at least are a change from endless Boxsters, MX-5's.
My gut feeling is that whilst as cumbersome as a Honda S200 & maybe not a pure sports car the BMW Z4 is underrated, good value & much better equipped for real world driving.

cmoose

45,343 posts

177 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
The half price thing is fun. I think more thought provoking is the similar-money options.

For less than the cost of the MX, you could get a gen 2 987 Cayman S with the reliable MA1 engine. For the same price as the MX, you could get said Cayman from a Porsche main agent complete with a two-year Porsche warranty for a relatively painless ownership that won't be miles away from buying new in most regards.

The Porsche will probably depreciate less, offsetting higher running costs. So overall cost of ownership I suspect will be similar. You could argue the toss over elements like chassis and steering. But the powertrain in the Porker is just so much more rewarding. I struggle to see how one could really choose the MX.

Save the manuals

44 posts

42 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Something cheaper than a new MX-5 that offers similar running costs, reliability and is just as fun to drive?


I’d go for a used MX-5... spin

Gribs

295 posts

84 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Addymk2 said:
Z4M. Close thread.
I'd guess the sort of person interested in a mx5 would be put off by just the servicing costs for a Z4M, not to mention all the other much higher running costs.

Trevor555

1,313 posts

32 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
We're so lucky to be able to buy cars like these.

In 10 years time will everything be electric? Governed speed? Black boxes on every new car? Speed limited?

BFleming

1,553 posts

91 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
When I lived in Kent one neighbour had a VX220, and one had a S2000.
The S2000 was bought new, had awful build quality, and rattled & flexed like crazy. They replaced it with a Z4 in 2006 and they loved it.
The VX220 was bought by non-car people; it looked nice, which was their main reason for buying it. I was in work about 3 years ago when a new colleague showed me his phone, specifically a picture of a VX220, and said 'guess what that is?'. When I not only told him the make & model, but the name & address of the only previous owner he was a bit freaked. He had bought it from my old next door neighbour. He loved & appreciated the car more than they did, did track days, shows etc.
If it were my money, I'd buy as much Boxster as my budget allowed, or possibly a newer Z4 with a decent engine (the newer ones being a bit heavy though). Boxster it is.

kambites

57,593 posts

169 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
I bought my Elise for a little over half the price of that MX5. Eleven years of daily driving and I havent even considered changing it. 40mpg in mixed use, 30 if driven hard, <£200 a year to insure and as an added bonus its now worth more than I paid for it. smile

SimonTheSailor

9,685 posts

176 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all



Japanese reliability, Lotus handling, made of plastic, classic car insurance,.....

SimonTheSailor

9,685 posts

176 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
and pop up headlights cool

Addymk2

Original Poster:

305 posts

120 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Gribs said:
I'd guess the sort of person interested in a mx5 would be put off by just the servicing costs for a Z4M, not to mention all the other much higher running costs.
Considering you can pick up a good condition well maintained Z4M for £13k... The £15k you pocket should more than cover any bills. The MX5 in question costs £28k...

edoverheels

81 posts

53 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
I had an NA MX5 and still have an S2000 as my daily.
Cannot understand WJNB comments about gear ratios on the S2000- the ratios are perfect for the car and engine. Having to stir the gearbox is the whole point.
So much so that I am in the process of having a Honda K20 fitted to my Elise, not quite same engine and gearbox of course but the same delivery and pretty much the same ratios.

Still it is good that we are all different. However I am probably one of the aforementioned lower orders that have got my hands on an S2000 but I have managed to avoid modifying it (other than removing the air box) and try not to rag around my local estate!

Baked_bean

1,279 posts

140 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
WJNB said:
I came from a concours mildly tuned Mk1 MX-5 to what was my dream sports car a brand new 2006 Honda S2000 in which I hoped to do some extensive UK travelling.
The Honda was cumbersome in comparison, nudging 6' tall ( or whatever that height is in foreign metric ) the drivers seat set too high even at its lowest setting, no steering wheel adjustment, lack of relaxing cruise control & in 6th having to always want a higher gear was an utter pain. In fact the gear ratios were rubbish forever having to stir the box to make it go quickly. Dam dangerous in the wet unless I was happy to just bumble along.
Many are now in the hands of the lower orders, happy to pay excessive road tax & Chav them with stupid modifications to hoon round local estates.
But good unmolested ones are about, look nice & at least are a change from endless Boxsters, MX-5's.
My gut feeling is that whilst as cumbersome as a Honda S200 & maybe not a pure sports car the BMW Z4 is underrated, good value & much better equipped for real world driving.


Comments like this are what puts people off of Pistonheads...unnecessary class based comments relating to cars and anything else that is discussed on this website,l. The S2000 is hardly the best value car either with reasonable ones starting at the £8k mark so hardly the car of the peasant underclass.

Whilst I appreciate your comments and opinion on the car I disagree and enjoy driving mine and having to work the gearbox. Some people do modify theirs but in my experience it tends to be to a fairly high standard although mine is standard bar an induction kit.

Little Bob

132 posts

157 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
I've owned a few weekend cars - Caterham, Elise S1 Sport 135, a Eunos S-Special 1.8, and currently a 2005, 22k mile, Moonrock S2000.

The S2000 is utterly superb, the engine is truly special (who can't love 9k rpm?), the gear change is one of the best out there, alongside Honda reliability and build quality.
Whilst the Eunos handling is more accessible, the S2000 is a step above in pretty much every respect, the engine alone is so much more of an event than the Mazda 1.8.

Having said that I loved my Eunos, and will no doubt have another at some stage (but it would have to be a Mk.1).

But a nice S2000 is an absolute joy, they have aged exceptionally well styling wise, and even now, in an increasing market, I believe they represent decent value for a brilliantly engineered convertible.

Wiltshire Lad

65 posts

17 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
Had an S2000 for almost 8 years- great car and so much more fun than an MX5. Swapped it for an Elise SC - again brilliant but not an everyday day car or even one for any type of touring. If you don’t need the car to get you to work then both of these put the MX5 in the shade - and I agree with Z4 comment in the article. It also, like the MX5, has a bit of the ‘hairdresser’ image about it (as does the Boxter no matter how well it drives). I had this lemme recently when replacing the Lotus for something more ‘practical’.
My solution - fully restored TVR Chimaera....

Squadrone Rosso

1,794 posts

95 months

Sunday 6th January
quotequote all
SimonTheSailor said:
and pop up headlights cool
And front wheel drive?