2000 Mazda MX5 1.8iS 1.8 16v petrol from UK and Ireland


Still the most entertaining affordable sports car


Utterly reliable.

General Comments:

This is now my third MX-5 and what can I say? Until someone builds a better affordable sports car, I'll just keep buying the things.

Much is made of the series 2 being a softer car than the original series 1 but it's still one of the most fluid and enjoyable handling cars on the road at any price, with almost telepathic steering. It grips strongly, and then communicates everything through the wheel rim and through your backside. You can slide it around and play with it, without ever feeling like it's going to bite you. Power oversteer, drifts, doughnuts - whatever takes your fancy. Nothing else at this price comes close as a package.

Performance is good, although this 1.8 engine really likes to be worked hard. It doesn't deliver all of its 146 bhp until 7,000 RPM meaning you have to row the gearbox hard, but it's no hardship when the gear lever is a tiny 4" long thing which plugs directly into the tail of the gearbox right underneath it. Front engine and RWD = no gear linkage to speak of. Knife through butter quality and a lovely short gate.

Fuel economy is poor for a small car (26-28 mpg) and insurance is expensive despite a lowish group. Build quality, dealers and driving experience however are all first class. At this price, it's unbeatable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st April, 2004

4th Jan 2005, 16:00

Looking for a replacement then get a Fiat Coupe 20vt, will out perform this car any day of the week with mid range acceleration to match "real" sportscars.

8th Jan 2005, 11:03

The Fiat is quick and very capable, but it's front wheel drive.

16th May 2005, 08:16

To the commenter 17th Nov 04 - your comments are the direct opposite of my experiences.

I'm now on MX-5 no 3 (a 2004 1.8iS), after a 2000 1.8iS and a 1997 1.8i. Never had a single fault or warranty claim on any of them, and the first two were both past 60,000 miles when sold. Build and engineering quality shames anything German in my opinion, although I do accept that the dash is somewhat plasticky.

My first (1997) car developed a little squeak from the column shround from about 50,000 miles which I fixed in about 10 minutes one Sunday afternoon. Apart from that, not a single rattle on any of them. As for leaking hoods, this again is not typical. I've never had so much as a drop of water leak inside either, and neither has anyone I know through the owners club.

The only weakness I'm aware of is a clutch fault that affects some 2002/2003 six speed cars.

The lowest the MX-5 has ever placed in any customer satisfaction survey in the UK is tenth out of every model of car on sale in the UK. Not bad in 15 years production.

2000 Mazda MX5 Jasper Conran Black 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland


Proper sports car for hot hatch money


No faults - totally reliable.

General Comments:

The Jasper Conran edition is basically a limited (400) run of the 146 bhp 1.8iS model, but with a nicer interior, full leather and special alloys.

The 1.8 Mazda MX-5 was voted best drivers car under £15,000 by Autocar (and Tiff Needell) in 2003. Came out ahead of the Clio Cup, Civic Type-R, Caterham 7 Classic and others. So it might look like a girl's car (I agree on this), but nobody who has driven one would think so.

Screaming 7200 RPM, 146bhp engine gives good performance in such a light car. Doesn't feel any slower than my previous 306 Rallye, although at about 8 seconds to 60, it is a little bit off the pace compared to the current mega hot hatches.

Although it's not slow, the MX-5's performance isn't exactly headline stuff, but the difference between a hot hatch and a purpose built sports car becomes apparent when you start chucking it around. For starters, its rear wheel drive, and near perfectly balanced, so it doesn't succumb to understeer (or electronic intervention). It also demands that YOU drive it, not the electronics.

Secondly it has a fantastic gearbox, fantastic brakes and steering with the kind of uncorrupted feel you can only get on a rear wheel drive car. Traction off the line is superb, and the car communicates as effectively through the seat as it does the wheel.

It's also a beautifully built car with typical Jap reliability. The interior of the MX-5 is a bit bland and sparse, but the brushed aluminium and leather of the JC model lift it a little. It has electric windows, a proper glass heated rear screen, ABS and a cracking stereo. Dealers and servicing costs are superb too.

Economy not great for a small 1.8 litre car - 32 mpg average, 25 worst. Most of this is because of the way the car begs to be driven though.

I have fallen in love with this car. It turns every journey into an event with its direct responses and laugh a minute handling. I love it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th March, 2004

1st Sep 2005, 11:13

I have an MX5 Jasper conran willing to sell.