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Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015) Buying Guide

Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)
Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Mazda MX-5 (2005-2015)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Summer fun comes no more reliable or enjoyable than with a Mazda MX-5, the cult sportster that was first seen in 1989. One of the most affordable driver's cars around, the MX-5 has become a true legend in its own lifetime, and for many good reasons. Firstly, it's in a class of its own thanks to all rival two-seater sportscars being much more costly. The MX-5 is also amazingly reliable while offering a truly great drive. It's also far more usable than you might think plus it's as reliable as you'd expect from this Japanese manufacturer. It's a drivers dream too; the brakes, steering, engine, gearbox and suspension all work in perfect harmony to make every journey a delight. Even better, there's a thriving social scene around the MX-5, so it really is the perfect sportscar.

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We LikeWe Don't Like
Fabulous to drive
Low purchase costs
Low running costs
Stylish design
Lots to choose from
Busy on the motorway
Small boot
Spartan entry-level cars
Key Dates 
8/05The MX-5 Mk3 arrives with 1.8 or 2.0 petrol engines.
10/06An MX-5 coupe-cabriolet becomes available for the first time ever. The plastic roof cuts weight; the car is mechanically identical to the regular convertible, aside from revised suspension settings.
9/08A facelifted MX-5 is unveiled, with a tweaked interior and nose, minor engine revisions and an optional six-speed paddle-shift transmission
1/12Another facelift brings optional sat-nav, a restyled nose and recalibrated brakes.
  • The Coupe-Roadster's roof isn't immune from leaks, although they're rare. Hose the car down and see if any water gets in.
  • The gearbox can be noisy once warmed up; listen for rumbling. This is normal though, with gearboxes appearing to be tough.
  • Make sure the cloth roof isn't damaged, as replacing it is costly. Check the frame, fabric and rear window for damage.
  • Ensure the coolant in the radiator is up to strength; a special fluid is needed and it's available in 5-litre bottles only.
  • The alloy wheels corrode, so look for bubbling of the lacquer. Many sets have been replaced under warranty.
  • Check that the brake discs haven't warped from track day abuse; feel for juddering under braking.
  • Upgrades to the suspension, exhaust and engine are common; ask who has worked on the car as not everyone knows what they're doing.

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