A lovely car, but the quality control is slipping
Car was delivered with a minor paint blemish on the bonnet.
Poorly aligned hood at the factory caused wind noise over 50 mph. Fixed by dealer under warranty.
Irritating "buzz" from one of the Bose speakers - replaced under warranty.
The illuminated gearknob sometimes flickers off when you change gear.
Slight hesitation / misfire for the first few miles after the engine has reached operating temperature
This is my third MX-5 having owned an example of each - a mk1, mk2 (.5) and this mk3.
I had reservations about this mk3 being a more "grown up" and more complex car than its ancestors. Certainly the piano black dash finish, big swooping dials and expensive feeling leather are a cut above the interior standard in the older cars. Handling is also more "mature" with some of the old go-kart feel sacrificed for greater stability and higher limits of grip. It's still a hugely fun car to throw around, whatever Evo say, but the priorities have definitely changed.
The 2.0 engine felt very flat and lifeless when the initial running in period was completed, and was to be honest a big disappointment, compared to the fizzier, more energetic 1.8 in my old mk2.5 Sport which was beautifully free revving after 72,000 hard driven, but meticulously maintained miles.
Thankfully, as the miles have gone on, the 2.0 has loosened nicely and now punches much harder and revs much more enthusiastically. It's not as sweet as the old 1.8, but much more muscular in the midrange, and manages to make the car feel quite quick on part throttle - something the old 1.8 never managed.
The excellent, ultra short throw of the 6 speed box, the confidence inspiring brakes, and the light, progressive clutch are all carried over unmolested from the older cars, In fact, this gearbox really has one of the most delightfully mechanical, shortest throw shifts to be found on any road car at any price. Like its older predecessors, it's a doddle to drive gently.
Before I bought this car, and after 15 years of MX-5 ownership I have had just two faults, one on each of the mk1 and mk2. Both were silly and trivial, and occurred at over 50,000 miles. This car however has proven far less reliable with a number of glitches and build quality problems which one might expect from a French product, but not a model noted for its unfailing reliability. The dealer has been absolutely flawless, taking the car at a few hours notice and providing a courtesy car (another MX-5 or once a Mazda 3 MPS Aero Sport - very impressive!) without me having to ask. Unfortunately it doesn't change the fact that I'm having problems with a car whose reputation suggests I shouldn't be. It's especially disappointing considering the old ones just never went wrong.
In many ways it's a lovely car. It's better looking than the old model, plusher, faster, quicker around the corners, and much better equipped, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have major concerns over quality control and the added complexity of the car ruining what was probably one of the old model's enduring strengths - it's totally bombproof and utterly reliable simplicity.
Unless things improve, I will probably be buying something else next time around.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 6th February, 2008