1997 Mazda MX5 Reviews

1997 Mazda MX5 1.6 (90 bhp) from UK and Ireland

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2011
Engine and transmission 1.6 (90 bhp) Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.0 / 10
Distance when acquired44000 miles
Most recent distance61000 miles
Previous carBMW 3 Series

Summary:

Brilliant!

Faults:

Replaced the original Mazda vinyl hood after eleven years, and a new set of original OE 14" Mazda alloys to keep her looking smart. Other than that, just keep changing the consumables during servicing.

At 60,000 miles, Mazda recommends new bushes, mine seem fine.

General Comments:

The end of the line for the Mazda MX5 MKI was the poverty spec 1.6 (90Bhp). Slower than its bigger, often better appointed 1.8 130 Bhp sister. However, don't discount it. Cheap insurance, 42Mpg and only 940Kg; the car is still hilariously fun to drive, and that's where it counts. As Top Gear's Mr Clarkson put it, "The MX5 is more fun at 30Mph than most cars are at 100Mph". The Five was never about speed or power, it's all about the handling, and the pure fun of driving a well sorted, nimble, lightweight sports car.

A good useable MKI five currently starts at two thousand pounds, but beware prices are climbing as classic status looms. It's useable and practicable enough to be everyday transport, yet provide thrills at a track day or B road fun at the weekend due to its un-burstable reliability.

Look past its "it's a girls car image" and remember that more MX5's will be racing this weekend on a track somewhere, than any other single model of car in the world.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd April, 2011

13th Sep 2012, 15:15

Just bought a Mazda MX5 1997 model off eBay for £511; bargain of the century. It's a top car... red, alloys, black hood and black interior!

1997 Mazda MX5 from North America

Model year1997
Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership1999
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission Don't Know
Performance marks 7 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 4 / 10
Dealer Service marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.8 / 10
Distance when acquired22000 miles
Most recent distance66000 miles
Previous carBMW 3 Series

Summary:

Fun with minimal maintainance

Faults:

Needed to replace the top at 58,000

The seats wear out on the side edge.

General Comments:

This car is great for around town. I have taken it on a couple of road trips and it was noisy. I got a wind screen for between the seats, a good idea for lowering the noise level.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th December, 2004

1997 Mazda MX5 STO 1.9 gas from North America

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 1.9 gas Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Dealer Service marks 0 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.6 / 10
Distance when acquired66000 miles
Most recent distance87000 miles
Previous carHonda Civic

Summary:

Incredible performance for cheap

Faults:

I have added a large Garrett turbo and am making around 300whp (about 330-350 crank). Although I upgraded the clutch to compensate for the increased stress, nothing has broken and the car doesn't overheat or break down. The engine, transmission and rear differential are completely unmodified.

The spark plugs and plug wires wear out slightly faster than on a normal car.

I had to wrap the brake reservoir in insulation after adding the turbo.

Otherwise completely bulletproof.

General Comments:

Stock, the car could hold its own around a track against much higher hp cars. The car handles incredibly and loses very little speed going through even the sharpest corners.

The car's only real weakness is a lack of accelerative ability. Cars that are much slower through the corners can still pull away from a stock Miata very strongly.

With the hp tripled, there are few cars that can keep up on the straightaways and thanks to racing tires, still fewer that can keep up in the corners. The car is a monster.

My only complaint is that tire sizes are limited due to suspension geometry and fender size and the car has poor aerodynamics, becoming slightly unstable above 130mph. Still, there aren't any comparable sports cars in this price range. Total cost to complete car (including car itself) was about 15000 American dollars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th August, 2003

20th Jun 2004, 14:59

Before rushing out to put a turbo on the Miata, invest in a driving school. Check on the web for your local Miata club and they can advise where to go. If you know how to use the power this great car provides, you'll be very happy with the Miata in stock form.

For this person, sticking a turbo onto any car requires a lot of work to other parts of the car, not just putting on tires.

Note, this isn't a car that was designed to go over 130. If you want to go that route, invest in some serious suspension upgrades.

23rd Sep 2004, 19:58

I totally agree. Being a part of an MX-5 club has really taught me HEAPS about my black '96 model. This is definately the most fun I have had in my driving years. I have owned 9 different cars and this is by far the most fun. No complaints from me, I would recomend an MX-5 to anyone. As for the turbo thing, forget about it... unless the car comes out with it as standard its really not needed if you know how to take the car to its limits. In this day and age, what with speed camera devices, why would you need to add anymore power when you can't use it anyway.

24th Apr 2005, 09:29

I own a '97 Mazda Miata Speedster. Now let me tell you the joy about these automobiles: the fact you can have such bundles of fun WITHOUT the excessive power. If you want to max-out fun and enjoyability of this car, take advantage of its slick shifter and nimble steering and brakes. If you want power, you're looking in the wrong place. Slow and steady wins the race...

1997 Mazda MX5 1.8i 1.8 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 1.8 Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 7 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.4 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance33454 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Polo

Summary:

Mark I models are an absolute steal used

Faults:

Virtually nothing. My wife complained of a wet bum one morning when it had been parked outside overnight in the rain. I could not replicate the leak by hosing the car down for nearly an hour, however even though the dealer failed to make it leak, they still replaced all the rubber seals around the hood under warranty without me asking them to.

Actually they even replaced the windscreen wiper rubbers after 12 months under warranty, because I happened to mention I thought they weren't up to much...can't say fairer than that.

General Comments:

I don't think I will ever sell this car. It's super fun in the summer, especially with the top down which takes less than a minute to drop down and in winter it is comfortable.

Original Dunlop tyres were very dodgy in the wet... now fitted with Goodyears and it's much improved.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th February, 2003

1997 Mazda MX5 Classic 1.8 from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership1998
Most recent year of ownership2001
Engine and transmission 1.8 Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.4 / 10
Distance when acquired7000 miles
Most recent distance26000 miles
Previous carRover - Austin Metro

Summary:

Cool, great handling, but needs a bit more power

Faults:

Small rust spots under the rubber stoppers in the boot. Cured with success by the dealer.

Unreliable central locking.

Cracked dashboard. Replaced by the dealer.

General Comments:

Great handling, but needs more power on the straights. Feels like it can handle more BHP.

Very reliable.

High 'head turning to £££ spent' ratio.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th July, 2001

1997 Mazda MX5 1.8i petrol from UK and Ireland

Year of manufacture1997
First year of ownership1997
Most recent year of ownership2000
Engine and transmission 1.8i petrol Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 7 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance22000 miles
Previous carFord Fiesta

Summary:

Lightweight sports car built for the masses!

Faults:

Exhaust heatshield rattle, that's it!

General Comments:

Great fun car to own, straight line performance could be slightly better(10-20 bhp more) but great handling.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th March, 2000

Average review marks: 7.7 / 10, based on 6 reviews