2000 Mazda MX5 1.8iS 1.8 16v petrol from UK and Ireland
Still the most entertaining affordable sports car
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
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.
The Fiat is quick and very capable, but it's front wheel drive.
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.