Justin Timberlake got it wrong in his song. Mazda MX-5 doesn’t need to bring Sexy Back – it has a history the envy of most other roadster manufacturers. This version of the MX-5 continues the history of this amazing and special convertible.
“Manufactured at Mazda’s Hiroshima plant, the MX-5 debuted in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show and was conceived and executed under a tightly focused design credo, Jinba ittai (人馬一体), meaning oneness of horse and rider. Widely noted for its small, light, technologically modern, dynamically balanced and minimally complex design, the MX-5 is the spiritual successor to 1950s and ’60s Italian and British sports cars, prominently the Lotus Elan.” – Wikipedia.
30 years in essentially the same fluid design is amazing. Of course there’s been evolution of the model since 1989, but the same philosophy is maintained. Mazda MX-5 is a driver’s car – a roadster to be enjoyed on sunny days with the wind in your hair.
What is it? The Mazda MX-5 is a front-engined, rear wheel drive roadster available in 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions. You want room? Forget it. MX-5 is a weekend play car that can be used for travelling mid-week if you have to. Boot space is sufficient for a couple of soft travel bags so forget about kids, golf clubs and prams.
Competitors? I have to think long and hard about this. The first vehicle that comes to mind is the Fiat Abarth 124 Spider, which is essentially an MX-5 with a different badge. From the same family, The Alfa Romeo Four C 2 door ($99,000) and then Audi TT Roadster ($84,655) BMW Z4 ($84,900) Lotus Exige ($132,000k),
How Much? My test vehicle, the Mazda MX-5 2.0 Litre GT Prices out at about $46,400 drive away in Queensland. The others I’ve mentioned in the Competitors Section – lots more $$ other than the Fiat Abarth.
When I first started selling cars, my manager taught me what’s termed the 6-position walk around. This process asks the salesperson to show a potential buyer everything important about the subject vehicle in terms of features and benefits.
This is how I review cars for you. I relate what I consider to be the most pertinent aspects and leave the high-speed cornering and 0-100km per hour to the ‘experts.’
I’m demonstrating the vehicle on how you’ll use it on a day to day basis. So off we go.
Front of the Vehicle
The Mazda MX-5 is pretty much the same as it was in 1989 and that’s a plus. In the last 30 years, it’s evolved rather than being a revolution. Headlights are LED Adaptive, meaning that the car “optimizes distribution of light from the headlights according to driving circumstances. Depending on vehicle speed and steering input, the system points the low-beams headlights in the direction the driver intends to travel”.
The 2.0 litre engine produces 135kw of power and 205Nm of torque – well and truly enough to give this lightweight car plenty of get up and go.
The fuel tank capacity is sufficient at 45 litres, but the engine requires a minimum 95 Ron premium unleaded fuel or higher. No go with E-10 for this car.
Suspension is double wishbone at the front with multi-link suspension at the rear. Brakes are ventilated at the front with a solid disc at the rear. Steering is double pinion electric power assisted.
Down the Side
Apart from the usual passive and active safety features such as ABS Brakes, Dynamic Stability Program and Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, some cars feature other systems which help with the driving of your car.
Here’s a few that are included in the Mazda MX-5 GT Roadster.
Rear View Mirror with Auto Dimming – If you’re in front of a car that has it’s high beam activated, the rear view mirror adjusts itself to dull the light
Premium Bose Audi System – High end audio system with 9 speakers
Driver Attention Alert – The DAA us a system which detects driver fatigue and decreased attentiveness and encourages the driver to take a rest. Lane Departure Warning – This systems recognizes when you drift out of the lane that you’re driving in and issues an audible and visible alert to warn
Smart City Brake Support (Front and Rear) – uses a windshield-mounted laser sensor the monitors and senses the vehicle in front of yours. … When the system detects a potential collision, it helps to prepare your brakes to quickly and effectively stop your vehicle.
Hill Launch Assist – Holds the vehicle (by braking) until it senses that the vehicle is moving forward
Limited Slip Differential – A limited-slip differential (regularly abbreviated to LSD) allows faster cornering by shuffling torque between the driven wheels. This lets the car use its engine’s output in the most efficient way possible by preventing wheel spin and maximising traction.
Rain Sensing Wipers – In the on position this system recognizes when rain is falling and automatically deploys the windscreen wipers at an appropriate speed
Headlights with auto on/off function – You don’t have to remember to switch your headlights on or off. The system recognizes daylight or dusk and switches on or off the headlights to suit. This feature is particularly handy for driving in road tunnels.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert – Rear cross-traffic alert is part of the blind-spot monitoring system. It uses the same sensors for vehicle detection but activates instead when you put the MX-5 in reverse. Its purpose is to detect vehicles that might be crossing your rearward path, such as when you’re backing out of a parking space
Traffic Sign Recognition – The Traffic Sign Recognition System helps prevent the driver from overlooking traffic signs and provides support for safe driving by displaying traffic signs on the Active Driving Display
Blind Spot Monitoring – Mazda Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system is designed to assist the driver by monitoring the rear blind spots on both sides of the vehicle, in certain situations, such as when changing lanes on roads and freeways
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System – The Tyre Pressure Monitoring System monitors the pressure for each tyre. If the tyre pressure is too low in one or more tyres, the system will inform the driver via a warning light in the instrument cluster and by a warning beep sound.
If you’d like to check out the full specification sheet, here’s a link to the Mazda website – Mazda MX-5
At the Back
Don’t assume that you’ll fit a lot in the boot of the Mazda MX-5. The capacity of 130 litres is only good for soft weekend luggage, an Esky and that’s about it.
One good thing though is that the boot is unaffected by the roof’s position, so you can drive with the top down and still have a reasonable amount of luggage space.
One curious feature of the MX-5 is that it doesn’t have a boot release inside the car. You can open the boot from your key fob, or there’s a button under the bumper to the right hand side of the number plate, providing you’ve got the key in proximity to the car.
I inadvertently locked the key fob in the boot and had to Google the problem to determine the fix.
So did BMW copy the MX-5 in side profile?
Perhaps so, and there’s certainly some resemblance. With the roof up, it’s a difficult car to describe, but when the roofs down, it’s a cracker of a look.
Nice 18” Alloy wheels, a low belt line and a bit of a wedgy shape gets my tick.
The driver is plenty cared for in the MX-5. Heated seats for the driver and passenger, keyless entry with push button start and a reasonable 7” infotainment screen. Navigation is standard but Apple Car Play and Android Auto are an option.
I found it a bit difficult to find my favorite radio station – Macquarie Sports radio – 882 – but I’m sure that if you’re collecting one from your local dealer, my fumbling around will be sorted.
I’m a tad disappointed with the power windows. You get auto down for the driver but its only manual up for both drivers and passenger windows – but sad that.
Heated Seats are a nice touch but I’d like to see a cooling option too.
The seats are comfortable and hold the driver well. Even on fast corners I was pretty well planted – maybe it was my girth?
So the metamorphosis is complete like a chrysalis to a butterfly. With it’s top down, the Mazda MX-5 is a completely different car. Wind in the hair, breeze on your cheek, there’s simply no better experience to be had.
RACQ Insurance – Mazda MX-5 GT
I use RACQ Insurance to give you a guide as to what you’ll pay for your annual comprehensive car insurance. Conditions precedent for this cover are:
- A male driver over 60 years of age, having held a license for over 10 years
- Bronze member of RACQ with 2 other insurance policies
- Has purchased the car for private used. The car is parked in a driveway overnight.
- The driver resides in postcode 4017
- The car is fitted with an engine immobilizer and an alarm system
- One at fault claim in the last three years, with no license suspensions
- Rating 1 currently, having held that rating 1 for ten years or more
- No driver under 25 will use the vehicle.
The premium quoted online by RACQ Insurance for Private Use is $481.15with a $750 excess. Variations from the information above may result in different outcomes. Check online with RACQ Insurance for your own particular quote.
Service Costs and Warranty.
Base scheduled maintenance is due every 10,000 km, but no longer than 12 months, whichever comes first.
Mazda only publish costs for the first 5 services, so be careful as to what your dealer wants to charge.
- 1ST SERVICE | $307or 10,000 km
- 2ND SERVICE | $350
- 3RD SERVICE | $307
- 4TH SERVICE | $350
- 5TH SERVICE | $307
In addition to the routine or log book services, there are extras.
At 40,000 kilometres or 2 years, you’ll need to change the brake fluid at about $94 and at 3 years or 60,000 kilometres, you’re expected to change the engine air filter for $78. These items are over and above the quoted service charges.
Rather than just book your Mazda in, my suggestion is that you ask the Mazda dealer to confirm their price for the service. Some dealers add on other items that aren’t recommended by Mazda Australia.
Mazda Australia recently upgraded their warranty from 3 years to 5-years unlimited kilometres. My strong advice is to keep servicing your Mazda at a dealer for at least 1 year beyond the warranty expiry
I continue to be frustrated with the ANCAP testing reports.
I have no hesitation in saying that if this vehicle was crash tested today, that it would only earn 4 stars. It’s missing a few things that ANCAP would penalize, but being a manual, Adaptive Cruise Control isn’t something that can be fitted easily.
That I can only tell you that the ANCAP report below shows a 2016 test result is frustrating. Someone needs to get this sorted quick smart. I’m a firm believer that if a manufacturer brings out a ‘new model’ this new model needs to be submitted for testing, rather than publishing ‘old’ information.
If the manufacturer doesn’t submit the vehicle, then it shouldn’t be able to score any stars at all.
For more information about the Mazda MX-5 click on the ANCAP link that follows. http://www.ancap.com.au/safety-ratings/mazda/mx-5/6e3441
Green Vehicle Guide – Fuel Consumption
According to the Federal Governments Green Vehicle Guide, this 2.0L Manual MX-5 achieves 6.9 litres per 100km on the combination of local and highway. That’s exactly what I achieved in my time with the MX-5, which is unusual to say the least.
Here in Australia, in the wake of the Volkswagen “Diesel Gate” scandal, we’re still waiting for the new “Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure” (WLTP) to be introduced.
When that happens is anyone’s guess, but the new testing is still in a laboratory, but has more ‘real-world’ examination attached. Interested in knowing more about the WLTP? Click on this link http://wltpfacts.eu/what-is-wltp-how-will-it-work/
Don’t hold your breath. While the Feds have agreed that it needs to happen, money is needed to make it happen. And I don’t think that there will be that much left after the pork-barrelling that’s going on with the run-up to the may 2019 Federal election.
If you’d like to see more about the fuel economy and other data, click on the link www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au and select the car that you’d like to investigate.
Where to Buy?
Mazda Australia kindly supplied this vehicle for my review. No financial incentives are paid to me by Mazda for the story at all. I write what I believe are the important aspects of the vehicle – good or not so much.
If you’re in the market to buy an MX-5 or any other Mazda vehicle for that matter, pick your dealer carefully. When I want to check out the ‘worthiness’ of a dealer, I Google ‘Mazda Dealers Brisbane” where the city is the one that you live in or around and the brand is that particular one you’re interested in.
I only list dealers who have achieved a minimum of 10 reviews with Google and then only those with four stars or higher.
From a South East Queensland perspective here are the dealers I’d visit:
Northside Grand Prix Mazda 4.3 Stars 308 Reviews
Southside Oldmac Mazda 4.4 Stars 254 Reviews
Eastside Oldmac Mazda 4.4 Stars 116 Reviews
Westside Ipswich Mazda 4.3 Stars 104 Reviews
Gold Coast Tweed Coast Mazda 4.1 Stars 78 Reviews
Sunshine Coast Sunshine Coast Mazda 4.2 Stars 107 Reviews
(Google Stars and review numbers effective 25th March 2019)
I’m Bob Aldons, the owner and founder of The Car Guy, and Car Business, reviewing cars, reporting on car industry matters, car tech, Formula 1, the motoring world at large and helping you to buy #anynewcarcheaper
I’ve spent the last forty-one years immersed in the automotive industry from salesman to the owner of a 7 brand multi-franchise dealership and since 2015, as a new car broker.
I know cars.
If you’re hunting around for a great price on your next new car, you should call me, the car buying expert, from Car Business.
My company, a Brisbane Car Broker, Car Buyers Agent or Car Buyers Advocate, will return your inquiry within 24 hours and make the process of buying a new car easy and stress-free.
Are you tired of salesperson tricks? I protect you from the pressure exerted by car dealer’s salespeople. There isn’t any obligation – just a pretty significant saving in terms of time, stress and financial reward.
You’re where? Seriously, my services are available for you in any Australian state and territory: from Darwin to Hobart, Cairns to Perth. Car Broker Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Darwin – I’m available when you need me to be.
Whether you’re a retail customer, a small company or a large national fleet, I’ll go to work and get that price down. Lower new car prices are my goal. So you’ll get the best prices from me rather than hoping you can do it by yourself.
If I can’t get you the best new car price, better than you can get yourself from a car dealer, I won’t charge you any fee. No Saving, No Fee. – that’s what you should expect from a car buying expert.
Car Business WILL save you money on your next new car purchase –guaranteed
The Australian Road Safety Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose charter is to reduce serious accidents on our roads through training and education.
Car Business donates to the ARSF for every car we sell. If you’d like to support this worthwhile foundation, donate to the cause, become a member today or buy your next new car from Car Business.
People Also Ask
Car Buyers always seem to need answers on a vast number of topics about their cars.
There are a few questions that I’m asked regularly, so to save you a phone call, check out my “People Also Ask” questions and answers below.
If you question isn’t listed, I’m happy for you to call me on 0418 748 498 or send an email to [email protected]
My advice is free.
Q: Why Should I deal with a Car Broker rather than just going to a dealer?
A: It’s the goal and the job of a car salesperson to make as much money for his dealership as he possibly can. And that applies to the car, finance (finance and insurance), and aftermarket sales (tint, paint, interior, rust).
It’s the role of a car broker or car buyer’s agent to buy the same car at the lowest possible price. Your broker will get prices from at least five dealers or more, get independent finance and insurance quotes and then only recommend the car protection you need rather than the products the dealer wants to sell you. Dealers, on average, make around $3800 on a car sale. An astute broker will get that margin down to around $1800, saving you about $2000 on your vehicle purchase
Q: Should I take Finance and Insurance through a car dealer?
A: Generally no. An average car dealer relies on the car buyer to be exhausted after the trauma and stress of actually buying a car. They depend on their finance manager to make an average profit of $1100 for EVERY car buyer coming into their dealership. The income per finance contract rests around $3000 per contract. In recent times, the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) has looked closely at the way that finance companies and their dealers sell to consumers. Recently, voluntarily, finance companies have reduced the flex rate (the maximum rate allowed to be charged over the base rate for particular consumers) to 4%, down from 8%.
There is still need to be wary of some of the non-standard lenders. For those in our community who have fallen on hard times, have bad credit or are on Centrelink benefits, some lenders are still allowed to charge exorbitant interest rates, upwards of 25%.
Q: It’s a fact that dealers, forced by their manufacturers charge very high prices for genuine spare parts. Recently I needed to purchase a set of head bolts for a 2008 Alfa Romeo Sedan. Price quoted by my local dealer was $294. I picked them up from the UK for $115 including freight to Australia. I expect to receive them at the same time as the local dealer would take to get them from Melbourne.
A: It’s not the dealer’s fault on this occasion. Typically a dealer makes around 20% profit on genuine spare parts sales. It’s the manufacturer/Importer who is charged prices higher than dealers in overseas markets can buy at. Shop around. To determine whether you can buy the part you need, you’ll first need the part number. Get your VIN, ring the local dealer and ask for the part number. They may oblige and if they do, just search on the net through Google. You’ll be amazed. There’ll even be local suppliers who can provide a genuine part for you at around overseas prices. For Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Isuzu Ute and Volkswagen, visit my site www.genuinespares.com.au
Q: If you have a larger vehicle, with a lot of glass area, the chances are that you’ll want or need window tinting. At the point of sale, dealers will want to charge you up to $795 to tint the windows of your car. Again, you’ll want to avoid the stress and pressure of negotiating anymore and sign where you’re asked.
A: Window tinting can be obtained for under $400 through Car Business. My company has arrangements with local tint shops to do just that price – $400. Don’t be overcharged. $400 is the price to pay for the average vehicle
Q: How do I pick the right car for my needs?
A: Typically, car buyers will have a general idea of what sort of car they want to buy. However, in a market like ours with nearly 60 brands and thousands of models, historical ownership doesn’t have to be maintained. Find an honest buyer’s agent and have a chat to them about your requirements. My company, Car Business, offers this service to our customers without any obligation. You can fill out the lifestyle form, by clicking and a representative of Car Business will contact you to discuss your needs. We use the R J Pound Comparative new Vehicle Price Guide to assist buyers in understanding the alternatives. It may not be the one you’re thinking about right now.
Q: I need some accessories for my new car, but I’m not sure that I’m getting the best price from the dealer
A: Accessories are another area that dealers make a lot of their profit. Apart from the window tinting, paint and interior protection and rust proofing, a typical salesperson will run through a long list of accessories. Even the manufacturer has copious amounts of accessories in their new car brochure.
Don’t feel obligated to buy any accessories you want through the dealer. I suggest to a lot of my customers to phone the spare parts department of the same dealer and ask for a quote on the accessories they want. You might be surprised at a price. The other way is to search on the internet. There are lots of retailers who buy the same parts you want from overseas suppliers (even ones that supply the manufacturer directly) and will offer them at a substantially better price. All you have to do it fit them up, but generally it’s a pretty easy thing to do for the home handyman
Q: If I sell my car privately will I get a better price?
A: It is sometimes possible to achieve a higher price with a private sale; however this reduces significantly if your vehicle is not presented correctly and is no longer under warranty. The private buyer today is looking to receive the same benefits they would by purchasing from a Dealer and expect huge reductions in price if they believe they are disadvantaged. Add to this the cost of preparing your vehicle to the same standards as Motor Dealers. Look at such items as Safety Certificates, Service, Tyres, Windscreen, Chips and Scratches, Detailing, and Advertising along with the need to be accessible and available at all times including weekends when prospective buyers will want to inspect your vehicle. It may not be the wise choice to have people you do not know, coming to your home.
Once the costs and time involved are assessed, most people choose to trade their present vehicle or to use a professional Car Buying Service to ensure they get a good price without the expense or hassle.
Q: Do you allow and/or recommend RACQ Inspections on second-hand cars?
A: Yes, we welcome the RACQ Inspection Process in our business and recognise the need for such an independent examination. Once completed, I’ll discuss the report with you and facilitate any repairs that are deemed necessary. You can arrange for the RACQ to visit my business. I can arrange for them to inspect your choice of vehicle and have them send the report directly to you if you prefer.
Q: Why are dealers so expensive for service in comparison to other service centres?
A: Dealers service and maintain vehicles as set out by the manufacturer’s recommendations to protect your new car warranty. They will generally be willing to match other service providers as long as they are comparing “like for like”.
Your circumstances can be taken into account regarding changing some filters and coolants etc. They also have factory trained technicians and have the support of specialised equipment and of course the proper factory support. There are many other reasons such as resale value, and when it comes to trade-in price, car retailers always look at maintained service books and especially if a dealer has serviced them.
On the other hand, if you’re carefully managing your money, we can arrange a log book service at one of our preferred providers.
Do I need to return my vehicle to the selling dealer for service?
The simple answer is NO!
While dealers may suggest or insist that your new car is brought back to their service department, the reality is:
- You can take your car to any of the brand’s service centres for routine or warranty service. Brand X warranty is covered by the manufacturer, not by the dealer. So if there’s a more convenient location to have your car serviced, take it there.
- Dealers may suggest that you have to have your car serviced at the franchised dealer to maintain your warranty. Again that’s a falsehood. You can have your car serviced by any qualified mechanic or technician, provided that they follow the service guidelines for your vehicle as specified by the manufacturer
- They should use as a minimum the oil grade specified by the manufacturer and also parts that are of the same quality standard. You shouldn’t use inferior parts. While I would suggest using the manufacturer’s parts, there are similarly high-quality non-genuine parts available on the market. Things like brake pads, brake rotors, air and oil filters, spark plugs and the like are often cheaper and as good quality as those supplied but the manufacturer
How often should I check my Tyre Pressures?
I check my tyre pressures monthly. I have a tyre gauge purchased from Repco that I rely on to check the pressures in my tyres. Arguably, it’s probably better to check your tyre pressures every second time that you fill your fuel tank. High volume petrol centres have good quality air pumps, and it only takes a few minutes to do that after you’ve got your fill.
What should I do if my car breaks down at night?
Firstly, I’m suggesting that you be in a roadside assistance program such as provided by the RACQ.
If you’ve purchased a new car, you’ll have coverage under your new car warranty. Kia Motors Australia provides seven years of roadside assistance in coordination with their warranty. Hyundai and Ford have a 5-year program.
Mitsubishi provides roadside assistance after the first year provided you’re having your services done at one of their dealerships.
If you run out of roadside assistance, best sign up with RACQ or your state motoring body. (NRMA, RACV, etc.) It’s far from sensible to break down on a dark or unlit road and then have to do repairs yourself, particularly for younger drivers.
A phone call from inside a locked car is preferable to having to find a phone booth or a ‘friendly neighbour’ to call for help
If you’d like to discuss anything to do with purchase, trade-in, private sale, service, warranty issues or just have a conversation about the motor industry in Australia, please give me a call on 0418 748 498 or email to [email protected]