RE: Mazda MX-5 1.5 (ND) | PH Fleet

RE: Mazda MX-5 1.5 (ND) | PH Fleet

Sunday 30th June

Mazda MX-5 1.5 (ND) | PH Fleet

The new MX-5 experiment has run its course - is 1.5 or 2.0 the one to have?



Of course this was going to happen. Running an MX-5 of some kind from September to the spring would always mean that we'd be denied any time with them in the best weather, but prior knowledge hasn't made the realisation much less irritating. With the weird June conditions now replaced by sunshine and scorching temperatures, it's hard to think of much that would make better company than either of the MX-5s.

A Mini Convertible is apparently the best-selling Mini out there, and available for similar money, though as a driving experience there's no contest. A TT is less fun. A Boxster is a worse sounding four-cylinder sports car. A Z4 is automatic only. A Caterham is tremendous, but will make you hot and bothered. A new 718 Spyder is going to be a delight, of course, but how much is getting into one of those going to cost? There's not much else like an MX-5.


Alright, perhaps a Spyder comparison is going a bit far. Some sort of point stands, though: to have a rear-wheel drive, naturally aspirated, lightweight roadster with a manual gearbox feels a rare privilege in 2019; that it's actually very good is almost just a bonus. As manufacturers have deserted the junior sports car idea, so those remaining deserve more attention.

To be honest, we knew the MX-5 was a well sorted car from previous experience and Sam's first drive. What's become apparent in the previous few months with the 2.0-litre RF and 1.5 Roadster, though, is just how good they are as vehicles to live with. Sounds stupid, but everything makes sense - and it's remarkable how many cars don't, and how irritating that can be. The ventilation controls are where you want them and operate logically, the infotainment is great, the keyless option was flawless, there are some clever storage ideas... It feels well thought out and intelligent, proof that modern tech can be incorporated into a cabin without making it needlessly complicated.


So which is the one to have - a 1.5 Roadster, or 2.0-litre RF? Well, the engine truest to the MX-5 ethos is really the 1.5; there's a sense of equilibrium, of the power and torque being the perfect match for the braking, grip and traction available. A little less weight over the nose made its steering a little less 'sticky' than the bigger car, too. As I've said before, it feels like a new sports car with the sensibilities of an old sports car, and that's quite charming.

But it won't surprise you to learn that the ideal combo is probably the more powerful engine with the lighter roof solution. The ability of the 2.0-litre to be slightly too much is more endearing; perhaps it's a yobbish observation, though the ability with the extra power and LSD to slightly manipulate the car on the throttle feels a worthwhile gain for me. That and additional revs now available make for genuinely exciting performance.


As for the roof choices, I'd go for the soft-top - it's so simple to use, looks better (to me) than the Retractable Fastback and saves money. The hard top did deliver some extra refinement, though not a huge amount, and the ability to only do 6mph when raising or lowering it was a pain. That said, the previous RC was the best-selling Mk3 MX-5 variant, and there are plenty of RFs around, so make of that you will.

The more general observation to note is that the MX-5, despite its diminutive size and seemingly modest output, is absolutely a viable (and very likeable) everyday proposition. If the space and seat issues can be tolerated - a big ask, granted - it's proved a more entertaining car to live with than a hot hatch. Plus the fact there are now BBR kits, to make a good car even better. The MX-5 might be shorter of rivals than at any point in the past 30 years, but I'm not sure anything could be much better for the money - it really is that good.


FACT SHEET
Car:
2018 Mazda MX-5 1.5 Skyactiv-G SE-L Nav +
On fleet since: February 2019
Run by: Matt
Mileage: 6,442
List price new: Β£20,795 (as standard; price as tested Β£21,585 comprised of Β£790 for Soul Red Crystal Metallic)
Last month at a glance: Autumn and winter with MX-5s have been great; imagine what the summer must be like!

Previous reports:
Does less power equal less fun?
Back to basics is best!
Belgium or bust for a Spa spectacular
Read the 2.0-litre RF reports here

Inspired? Search for a Mazda MX-5 here







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Author
Discussion

Nerdherder

Original Poster:

1,209 posts

41 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
Some genuine letdowns & upsides, first hand driving experiences and reports about wear and tear (including response to rust issues!) would be highly appreciated. The article is nice as it stands, but is a genetica comparison of the models traits in various configs and adds nothing about YOUR particular experience or any added dimension of running it long term..

simonsaunders

11 posts

46 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
I think you had the car in the *best* months for this type of car. Stolen moments with the roof down are actually nicer than being blazed on for hours. A RWD chassis and not much power a way more fun in the cold and wet rather than the summer.

My old mx5 always made me smile more over the months that you had yours...

stanglish

135 posts

57 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
Feels a touch incomplete as an article as mentioned. Very little detail on the actual differences. What about real world economy, noise, drivability at both commuting and fun speeds etc?

In particular it would be really good to have more detail on how the lack of a diff on the 1.5 affects things on the road rather than the track.

The problem I guess many like me will face is that we'll be buying used, and the original 'ND1' 1.5 vs 2.0 is the target of our comparison, not the *new* 'ND2' 1.5 vs 2.0.

Is there an argument that 90% of the fun can be had from plumping for the boggo-spec ND1 1.5 cloth-top and setting a little aside for potential future mods like the Super 160 BBR tune or more serious future packages then thrashing the life out of it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_MX-5_(ND)#Spec...

Seems to me like the ND1 2.0 creates a more GT-like experience that's probably suited to the RF i.e. more power, less revs.

sideways man

683 posts

81 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
As Stanglish said; more real world comparisons please. Mpg is the biggie, given cost of fuel these days.

Sharon-coizu

3 posts

2 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
After 3 years ownership, I can say that the ND 2.0 SEL NAV is very easy to live with and fun when you want it to be. I found the Sport Nav a little unnecessarily firm and actually worse to drive quickly on road.

It just manages to accommodate a weekly shop or short break away and the addition of a BootBag has let us take it camping!

We're getting 43 mpg despite on mainly A roads and often driving a little too enthusiastically! Basically it's just about usable as an everyday car for two.

The engine has got better with use, it was annoyingly unwilling to rev for the first 2k miles or so and now feels faster than the stats. Overtaking means dropping to third but the gearbox is a delight and there's an addictive kick in the back when you change up at the redline at 70mph. I keep toying with heading to BBR for a few more horses but I probably won't while it's our only vehicle.

Handling is fun but safe. It will break traction in the wet but the slide us so easy to control. It's not quite as precise as a MK3 MR2 but a lot more comfortable and practical.

In short it's a keeper! Might be the last car I am able to buy that's Petrol, Manual and doesn't have modes so it had better last!

TheDrBrian

2,872 posts

166 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
Nerdherder said:
Some genuine letdowns & upsides, first hand driving experiences and reports about wear and tear (including response to rust issues!) would be highly appreciated. The article is nice as it stands, but is a genetica comparison of the models traits in various configs and adds nothing about YOUR particular experience or any added dimension of running it long term..
My 28000 mile car only has a little bit of rust on the subframe which will only take a few mins to sort when I next change the oil.
Driven daily through all weathers and the extreme snow we had last year.
Still on the original fronts and had a set of rears at 18000. 3 oil changes thus far. Only 1 problem which was part of the aircon TSB and was fixed for free.

Nerdherder

Original Poster:

1,209 posts

41 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
TheDrBrian said:
My 28000 mile car only has...
Sharon-coizu said:
After 3 years ownership, I can say ...!
Thnx for sharing!!

DCerebrate

217 posts

54 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
I have a 2016 1.5 as a daily. Currently about 15k miles pa on the wildest A and B roads. 47 mpg long term average, needs good tyres and geo setup properly to make it handle and grip. Quite surprised that it needed pads and discs all round at 30k, and hubs/bushes had to be replaced under guarantee. But great all rounder, feels alive and soft-top goes up and down in seconds and can cope with all weathers. Plan to keep for another 2-3 years, and even at that it might stay within the family.

Abarth666

2 posts

2 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
I agree the MX5 is a great wee sports car but a bit boring by today’s standards that’s why I chose the Abarth version. The exhaust note is a big selling point, the retro Italian sports car look sets it out from the crowd and having driven the 2.0 Mazda the Fiat 1.4 turbo is more fun. I can’t agree about on board storage being good unless the MX5 has more than the Abarth? A shallow arm rest, a coin space at the gear shift and the box between the rear seats is pathetic. No glove box or standard cup holders (£75 extra) or storage in the doors but surprisingly the boat (trunk) is bigger than expected.

Put my White, Black n Red with Black n Red leather beside a MX5 and I guarantee I get more admirers!

Edited by Abarth666 on Sunday 30th June 18:25

WJNB

1,895 posts

105 months

Sunday 30th June
quotequote all
My days of pokey little sports cars are gone but as an ex 1960 AH Sprite & ex MX-5 owner the final report says all I need to know.
Not bothered about minor variations in MPG (otherwise I'd buy a diesel) between the two engine sizes, agree the 2 litre provides worthwhile extra go, the soft top is the only one to go for unless you enjoy looking & being seen in an ugly car. Has Mazda made anything more ugly & cumbersome looking?
Hate the stupidly 45 degree angled daytime running lights & the last minute stuck-on info screen.

Black S2K

861 posts

193 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
If one is 6' (or over) the critical point is that the RF loses approx. 1/2" of seat movement and I found it very uncomfortable.

It took me a while to realise why I fitted well in the proper version and not the RF.

Ali_T

3,346 posts

201 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
Good to know as I've just picked up the new 2.0 roadster on Friday. Also added Eibach springs (helps tie down that excess body roll superbly) and BBS wheels (the originals felt a little heavy footed at times). People think I'm mad as my last car was a Giulia Quadrifoglio, but I've had more fun in three days driving than in two years of the Alfa. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazingly good car (with some of the worst after sales I've ever encountered) but all that power and grip makes most of journeys quite boring, not something you could ever say of the little Mazda. I can definitely see a BBR visit on the horizon but only the naturally aspirated route, not a turbo. There's something glorious about a high revving, naturally aspirated, manual gearboxed sports car. They're becoming a very rare breed.

Ali_T

3,346 posts

201 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
Abarth666 said:
I agree the MX5 is a great wee sports car but a bit boring by today’s standards that’s why I chose the Abarth version. The exhaust note is a big selling point, the retro Italian sports car look sets it out from the crowd and having driven the 2.0 Mazda the Fiat 1.4 turbo is more fun. I can’t agree about on board storage being good unless the MX5 has more than the Abarth? A shallow arm rest, a coin space at the gear shift and the box between the rear seats is pathetic. No glove box or standard cup holders (£75 extra) or storage in the doors but surprisingly the boat (trunk) is bigger than expected.

Put my White, Black n Red with Black n Red leather beside a MX5 and I guarantee I get more admirers!

Edited by Abarth666 on Sunday 30th June 18:25
MX5 interior is no different but does come with two cup holders free. I discovered this by bashing my elbow off one, right on the funny bone, and they now live in the garage! I also preferred the 2.0 in the new MX5 over the 1.4 turbo. The turbo doesn't much like revving where the Mazda screams like an old school Type R. I did upgrade the MX5 interior to include the alcantara pack from the Abarth, though. That, I love. The main reason to not buy the Abarth, though, was that Arnold Clark are the franchise holder up here! And I don't ever intend using them again after my Alfa experiences!

Sharon-coizu

3 posts

2 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
Ours has no rust after 3 years outside in rainy Devon. I was really surprised to hear this was an issue.

I think the RF looks awkward and if you're 6 foot you won't fit comfortably. The full convertible is much more resolved design wise and the roof is a one handed doddle.

I found storage to be adequate. The central box between the seats is effectively a glove box and there are useful cubby holes behind both seats that we use for first aid kit, vests and all the other euro kit leaving the boot clear. I hate touch screens and the stuck on variety are the worst, it really spoils the simplicity of the dash for me.

Looks are subjective, obviously. I found the Abarth a bit too conspicuous and prefer our ND in grey with dark wheels. It's not pretty but quite stealthy, which I like. The stance would benefit massively from the 30mm drop that BBR offer but Devon's pothole epidemic rule that out!

Sharon-coizu

3 posts

2 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
Ali_T said:
MX5 interior is no different but does come with two cup holders free. I discovered this by bashing my elbow off one, right on the funny bone, and they now live in the garage! I also preferred the 2.0 in the new MX5 over the 1.4 turbo. The turbo doesn't much like revving where the Mazda screams like an old school Type R. I did upgrade the MX5 interior to include the alcantara pack from the Abarth, though. That, I love. The main reason to not buy the Abarth, though, was that Arnold Clark are the franchise holder up here! And I don't ever intend using them again after my Alfa experiences!
We had 3 free cupholders. Two took all our elbow room away and one threatened the passenger's knee! All 3 went on eBay after a week and we got £40 each!

Ali_T

3,346 posts

201 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
Sharon-coizu said:
We had 3 free cupholders. Two took all our elbow room away and one threatened the passenger's knee! All 3 went on eBay after a week and we got £40 each!
Cunning plan! I also have the original alloys to put on eBay now the BBS are fitted.

treeroy

452 posts

29 months

Monday 1st July
quotequote all
Does the Mini convertible really sell more than the hatchback?