Fleet News

Mazda MX-5

Mazda

Review

##MX-5 2001--right##THE vehicle that reinvented the traditional two-seater 60's sportscar in 1989 has been treated to another facelift in an attempt to keep if fresh against ever-improving competition.

More important than the minor design changes are specification increases, price cuts and the option of an automatic gearbox.

The entry-level 1.6i remains at £14,995, but benefits from remote central locking and alarm, electric windows and ABS, while the 1.8i Sport has leather trim, a remote boot release and electric door mirrors and aerial.

Interior detail changes include a new centre console, white-faced speedometer and rev counter with chrome-plated rims, high-back bucket seats and an improved centre console box.

Although the latest MX-5 will be meaningless to fleets which do not include open-top cars on choice lists, it remains a desirable financial proposition to fleet operators that do, and a desirable style icon for drivers.

Only MX-5 1.8i Sports were available to try at our launch event, which although disappointing was also something of a relief as the 1.6i I had experienced in the past felt a little asthmatic with just 99lb-ft of torque at a peaky 5,000rpm.

The range-topping model offers the delight of an extra gear ratio, and like the standard five-speed box the gearchange remains as sharp and precise as a rifle bolt.

The MX-5 has a cosy cabin, which barely contained my 6ft frame with the roof in place, and I was not prepared to go for the rain-in-the-hair look. However, the new seats are comfortable and steering wheel came close to giving me an unobscured view of the instruments.

On the move the car feels quick - but not as rapid as an MR2 Roadster - although it takes time for the engine to get into its stride. The steering is quick and the car is great fun to drive across country lanes making almost intuitive reactions about where it should be placed on the road.

Brakes have reassuring stopping power, and the MX-5 corners virtually flat. Ride is on the firm side but that's to be expected in a sportscar.

Mazda has made the MX-5 more desirable through a wider range of models and better value for money with extra kit. It remains fun to drive and should be a sound investment for its price.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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