The Mazda MX-5 has become a default choice for people who want a light, simple sports car. But what is the two-seat convertible like to live with? Here’s a diary of our time with the CarAdvice MX-5.
Think of this as a rolling logbook, a little window into life with the cars in the CarAdvice stable. You’ll find the most recent entries at the top, and the older instalments at the bottom.
Expect to see monthly updates from here on out. They might be longer, more in-depth breakdowns of specific trips, or sentence-long snapshots of foibles that have popped up.
Let us know if there you have questions about the cars and we’ll try to answer them. Most of all, enjoy!
We bought our little Mazda with 10,000km on the clock, for reference.
Scott Davison, Product and Marketing Director
The MX-5 is small. Surprise! With two seats and a small boot, it’s not designed to haul loads of gear around. That didn’t stop Scott from using it on the weekly shop.
Scott: Clearly, the MX-5 is not the most practical car for some of life’s typical daily tasks. But I am constantly surprised by just how big the seemingly tiny boot actually is. It’s very deep and I’ve managed to fit quite a lot more in there than I first thought possible.
This weekend, for example, I was out in the MX-5 and we stopped in for some groceries on the way home. As often happens, a quick stop for two or three items turned in to a major shop and we walked out with six bags full of groceries.
As you can see, they actually fitted very easily into the boot of the MX-5. In fact, there was room left over.
Mike Stevens, Producer
As a drop-top, you’d think the MX-5 was tailor made for summer. As Mike Stevens found out, there’s at least one part of the convertible Mazda that can’t necessarily handle the heat.
Mike: As you can probably see, hot weather left the MX-5’s screen in a bit of a bad mood.
That first message was only a notification, so I accepted it. The touchscreen response was laggy, especially in moving the map around with my fingers. Menus responded fine using the console controls, and animations and loading speeds were otherwise fine.
Touchscreen response improved after about half an hour. It would’ve been quicker to improve if I’d put the roof up and cranked the air-conditioning, I think.
Anthony Crawford, Founder
Tony spends his time driving the most exciting, powerful cars on the market. That could make him jaded, but it seems the MX-5 is charming enough to make our supercar-loving founder smile. His favourite part? The roof!
Anthony: It doesn’t matter how many supercars you’ve driven, few provide the seat-of-the-pants thrills of the modest MX-5.
This fourth-generation model has a different look to previous generations, but it’s a brilliant homage to the iconic two-seat sports car, that is so satisfyingly simple to drive and live with.
You’re never going particularly quick, but the MX-5 has never been about sheer speed. it’s about ultimate driver engagement.
Here’s the thing, though – you should only drive an MX-5 with the roof down, weather permitting of course. The roof itself is so easy to lower with one hand, and on the move, it’s a brilliantly simple mechanism that allows you to enjoy driving the way it once was.
Igor Solomon, Videographer
What’s the most important part of any car? Depending on who you ask, it’s the tyres. Having schlepped from Sydney to Melbourne, Igor took our MX-5 to Kmart Tyre & Auto for some new, racier shoes. What sort of tyres did we buy, and what sort of difference did they make? Read on to find out…
Igor: The MX-5 was initially on Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres, measuring 204/45 R17. Rather than a straight swap, we thought it might be worth putting something a bit stickier on the car – something like the Yokohama AD08R in 205/45 R17 form.
Essentially a track-hybrid tyre, the AD08R has stiffer sidewalls and a more aggressive tread pattern than the S001s. Coupled with a fresh alignment (more front-end camber, more toe-in at all four corners), the new tyres make a real difference to the little Mazda’s handling.
Turn-in feels sharper, and there’s more mid-corner grip, although the standard suspension is still a bit too rolly-polly for our liking. There are a few drawbacks associated with the new rubber, too – namely a sharper ride and more road noise.
Igor Solomon, Videographer
Igor already owns a (very nice) NB Miata, so he was the perfect man to drive the CarAdvice MX-5 from our Sydney office to Melbourne. Here’s a summary of his (completely unbiased, duh) thoughts.
Igor: Although it doesn’t have a telescoping steering wheel, the driving position was “still great” over long distances. The cabin ergonomics were a source of frustration, with an oddly-placed cupholder and inaccessible glovebox (hidden on the bulkhead, between the seats) the main issues.
How does it drive? It’s not particularly refined on the highway, that’s for sure. The engine drones consistently at 110km/h, and the car needed new tyres, which meant handling was a little “all over the place.” A fresh set of Yokohama rubber (read more above) and an alignment solved that, thankfully.
Speaking of tyres, issues with the tyre pressure warning system were the tip of a hefty list of electrical gripes, including (but not limited to) a buggy touchscreen, broken speaker in the headrest and inconsistent rear-view camera.
Given the blind spot you get with the MX-5’s folding roof, reversing can be tricky without electrical help – especially in the rain, where dropping the top isn’t an option.
Jin Tee, Advertising Operations Manager
Our MX-5 has really covered some ground. After adding it to the fleet, CarAdvice needed to move the little Mazda from Brisbane to Sydney. Jin Tee was the man for the job.
Jin: I volunteered to drive our MX-5 from Brisbane to the Sydney office. I had my “ah-ha” moment after spending about 15 minutes on a twisty road… You don’t need big power to have fun.
The MX-5 is compact, light, peppy and loves the corners. I love climbing through the gears in this car – that might thanks to that ‘notchy’ shifter.
With nine hours of driving between Brisbane and Sydney, I really liked the audio system. The sound retains clarity at high volume, which was perfect for top down freeway driving.
I love how easy it is to open and close the roof, it’s just a matter of seconds. It’s an awesome weekend car for me, but I would struggle to live with it. I need extra seats and a bit more storage.
Alborz Fallah, Founder
After two months, the little Mazda was winning fans around the CarAdvice office. All that was required? The right frame of mind.
Alborz: Having fundamentally given up trying to drive the MX-5 fast, we’re free to enjoy it as the best sporty convertible for the money.
As an earlier intro piece, this entry is much longer. You can read full update here.
Alborz Fallah, Founder
Why an MX-5? Simple! Everyone needs to own a convertible at least once in their life.
Alborz: In this age of overzealous bureaucracy and political correctness gone mad, there are only a handful of ways to have fun in something that has wheels without being arrested or worse… An ideal compromise is an affordable sports car – fast enough, blessed with great dynamic ability to be fun on a twisty stretch of road without having to exceed the speed limit.
As the big introduction story, this entry is much longer. You can read full update here.