A lightweight, zippy little sports car packed with all the mod cons required by modern motorists – an engineering triumph
Compact, light, quick and nimble; Mazda keeps faith with the original MX-5 concept
It weighs the same as a mk1 and, amazingly, it’s slightly shorter. The 1.5-litre version is as peppy as a mk1 1.8 with its 131bhp, while the 158bhp 2.0 is really quite quick. And as of mid-2018, that got hiked to 181bhp.
Yet the mk4 has all the modern safety gear plus the simplest and neatest of all MX-5 hoods, and it’s impressively frugal. Mazda’s current specialities of lightweight, high-strength construction and ultra-high-compression engines are the key, ensuring a convincing MX-5 experience with a modern take. There’s even a hint of Jaguar F-type in the looks, especially at the tail.
The mk4 has the stiffest structure and the most faithful handling of all. It draws you in like a mk1 but does it without a nod to the 1960s, so lumpy roads just aren’t an issue. There’s a Roadster Fastback (RF) version, too, a new take on the retractable hardtop with a touch of Ferrari Dino aft of the cabin. One snag, though: the mk4, oddly, has the tightest cabin of all the generations, both for tall people and for a journey’s clutter. The boot is tiny, too, because the cabin is set further back in the wheelbase.
Provided you fit, which version to choose? The lighter-nosed 1.5 has the more pleasing balance and is quick enough for most. The faster 2.0 provides a different thrill.we love them both. Values: from £11,000 (2015 1.5) to current list price (£18,995–£29,195).
Tail lights are a piece of gorgeous design Shame the info screen doesn’t retract Skyactiv engines are lively and very efficient: 40mpg+ is easily achievable