Sign in with your email address username.


Mazda MX-5 – too much fun?

- Featured Image

As a Baby Boomer, I’ve become accustomed to having to work hard for all of the pleasures in life, unlike those Gen XYZs, who expect the world to land at their feet.

But, there are some pleasures that I think I’ll never have.

For starters there’s a Mazda MX-5.

When it was first released in 1989, I’d just completed my specialty training.

But with a big mortgage there was no way that I could see myself splurging on a toy like the MX-5, with its sexy pop-up headlights.

When the second generation model was released in 1998, I still couldn’t see any practicality in a car that only had two seats.

Sure, I could pick up my children from school one at a time, but parental responsibility weighed heavily at that point in my life.

The MX-5 now came with a rear window made of glass, and the head-lights weren’t concealed any more.

The third generation MX-5 arrived in 2005 with a bigger two litre engine  – at exactly the same time as mountains of homework and sky-rocketing school fees.

Fast forward to 2015, to an empty nest, a smaller mortgage, everyone’s education completed and the fourth generation Mazda MX-5.

With stunning styling, it was certainly looking like an attractive proposition.

But having mastered the art of delaying gratification, will I say no once more?

The current MX-5 has certainly impressed the motoring elite, having scored the 2016 Wheels Car Of The Year award, along with two previous COTY awards in 1989 and 2005.

What did they like so much about the new model?

For starters it’s much, much less expensive, with an entry-level 1.5 litre manual starting at $31,990 plus on-road costs.

It had to be cheaper than the old model to stand a chance against the Toyota 86, which is hugely popular in this demographic.

The sharper pricing is scaled back even further by offering a 1.5 litre variant motor, which is livelier and revs better than the two litre.

Buyers save $2500 with the smaller motor, but no one is short-changed.

The new MX-5 is also lower, wider, lighter, faster and more economical than the out-going model.

An MX-5 cabin is an intimate, and some might say claustrophobic, space.

In an effort to save weight, it is more about leaving things out than packing them in.

This time around there’s no cigarette lighter, just a USB socket. And the glove box has disappeared completely from the cabin.

There still is a tiny lockable compartment between the seats for loose items that would disappear with the roof down.

The interior finish is still very basic, and there is nothing plush about the upholstery in the entry-level specification.

But MX-5 drivers don’t care about any of those details.

They buy the car to drive it, and would happily sit on the floor if that could lower the centre of gravity by another centimetre.

Yes, driving the MX-5 is exhilarating, and it certainly pushed out the dopamine in my nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum.

The motor sits way back behind the front wheels, and that perfect weight distribution means that the MX-5 moves like a ballerina.

But back at the dealership I spotted a Mazda 6 which somehow still better suited my style.

Is a Mazda MX-5 for me?

Maybe one day.

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser



2015 NC

2016 ND

2016 ND


2.0 litre

1.5 litre

2.0 litre


118kW @ 7000rpm

96kW @ 7000rpm

118kW @ 6000rpm


188Nm @ 5000rpm

150Nm @ 4800rpm

200Nm @ 4600rpm


6 speed manual

6 speed manual

6 speed manual

Kerb Weight




Power to Weight Ratio




Price + ORC