Mazda MX-5: New engine turns great into fantastic

25th September, 2018


Tom Wiltshire takes a test drive to see if more power, plus some technology updates, have enhanced the charming Mazda MX-5.

WHAT IS

Put simply, the Mazda MX-5 is an institution: The world’s bestselling roadster, a Japanese icon, and the brand’s best-known car worldwide. It’s the car, Mazda says, that brings interest to the brand — keen drivers are attracted to the rest of the more practical line-up after being drawn in by the sporty and emotive MX-5.

This facelifted model, then, has to get some crucial elements right if the discerning market is to continue its adoration.

WHAT’S NEW?

You’ll struggle to tell the updated model from the outgoing car at a glance, as it’s visually identical save for a small hump on the rear, which houses a reversing camera. As before, the manually folding soft-top is available alongside an electric ‘Retractable Fastback’ hard-top.

The changes are mostly under the skin, and the headline alteration is a brand-new 2.0-litre petrol engine to replace the existing unit. It offers 181bhp, up from the old car’s 158bhp, thanks to a raft of upgrades — this is more than just a slight tune-up. Inside, a few crucial changes have been made off the back of existing owners’ feedback, while there’s also added safety kit.