The updated-for-2022 Mazda MX-5 Roadster remains as charming and engaging as it’s ever been. It’s analogue motoring at its best.
- Utterly charming engine and gearbox combo
- Nimble and light handling
- Affordable sports car motoring at its finest
- No spare tyre of any kind
- 10,000km service intervals aren’t ideal
- Half-baked touchscreen – go full touch or don’t
How much does the Mazda MX-5 cost in Australia?
There’s a simple pleasure to be found behind the wheel of the 2022 Mazda MX-5. And it’s this: the MX-5 represents everything that is good about the simple joy of driving.
Small, lightweight, not too powerful, and in the case of our test car, equipped with a manual gearbox. It’s the very definition of analogue motoring.
This generation Mazda MX-5 – dubbed ND – first graced our roads in 2016. Successive updates have kept the soft-top fresh over the intervening years, while keeping pace with technological progress.
For the 2022 model year, the biggest change has come under the skin, Mazda adding what it has called Kinetic Posture Control (for improved handling and stability, not that the older MX-5 needed much improvement).
But, in good news for enthusiasts, the entry-level 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine has been deleted and in its place, the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated inline four – with 135kW and 205Nm – previously found higher up in the MX-5 range.
A bigger engine means a bigger ticket price for the entry-level Roadster we have on test here. But, to be fair to Mazda, the increase isn’t huge, just $1700 list over the outgoing model.
That translates to a drive-away price of $42,184 leaving the MX-5 in rare air by itself in terms of affordable open-top sports car motoring. Our test car, with a manual gearbox and finished in Machine Grey metallic paint attracting a $595 premium, drives out of the showroom for $42,797.
It’s the most affordable Mazda MX-5 currently available. An automatic transmission adds $2000 to the price.
At the other end of the MX-5 spectrum, the range-topping Roadster GT RS is only available with a manual transmission. It’s priced at $52,197 drive-away.
You can check out details of the full MX-5 range here, but standard equipment highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, a 7.0-inch infotainment (part-time) touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and rain-sensing wipers.
There’s cloth trim inside and manual air-conditioning, while cruise control is of the standard type and not adaptive.
All pretty basic, then, certainly in the context of modern motoring, but to decry its basic nature is to miss the point of the MX-5. It’s a car to be enjoyed for its own sake; an analogue connection to the road increasingly absent in today’s cars where gadgetry and gimmickry take centre stage, sometimes at the expense of driving engagement. Keeping it simple, the Mazda MX-5 remains as it has always been.
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How much space does the Mazda MX-5 have inside?
Purposeful is the word that springs to mind when looking at the MX-5’s cabin. Of course, as a two-seater it’s compact inside, although not as tight as you might think.
At 173cm, I’m no giant, and getting comfortable in the driver’s seat isn’t an issue. But, I’ve also witnessed first-hand much taller folk wrangle their 183cm-plus frame behind the wheel without too much of an issue.
It’s certainly snug, but with manual seat adjustment and a steering wheel that both tilts up and down and telescopes in and out, finding the ideal driving position is a cinch.
The low-slung seats – finished in cloth in this base-model specification – are supportive and comfortable.
Everything feels close to hand, because it is, the cabin a compact and purposeful place to be. Getting yourself comfortable isn’t a problem. Mazda has had 33 years of MX-5 development to keep cabin compromises to a minimum.
Those compromises come in small details like storage amenities. Don’t look for a glovebox in the dash because there isn’t one. Instead, a small compartment located just behind the driver’s (or passenger’s) elbow is surprisingly deep.
A pair of flimsy-looking cupholders also lurk behind elbows and aren’t the greatest for ergonomics, though one can be moved forward into the passenger side of the centre stack. There’s a small not-quite-smartphone-sized cubby forward of the gear lever and that’s about it.
None of that matters, because this isn’t a car to be filled with ‘stuff’. Just get in, lower the roof – and this can be done from the driver’s seat manually with just a simple flick of a lever – and drive.
If you must carry stuff, there’s a small but serviceable boot capable of holding 130L, which is enough for a couple of soft overnight bags or a weekly shop for family of two, but not at the same time.
Don’t look for a spare wheel and tyre either, not even a space-saver. There ain’t one. Get a flat and you’ll need to put your faith into a can of puncture-repairing goop.
|2022 Mazda MX-5 Roadster|
Does the Mazda MX-5 have Apple CarPlay?
This 2022 model-year update has bypassed the MX-5’s infotainment system. It’s the same 7.0-inch screen hosting Mazda’s familiar MZD Connect operating system.
It’s worth noting that while there’s touchscreen functionality, it’s only when the car is stationary. On the move, you’ll need to use the rotary dialler in the centre console.
In an ideal world, the touchscreen would always be ‘on’, but Mazda has perfected its rotary dial system to within an inch of its life. It’s a good one, with a clear and simple menu structure that never leaves you guessing.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, wired for Android and wireless or wired for CarPlay devotees. It’s somewhat incongruous, though, scrolling through CarPlay menus using a dial.
Satellite navigation is standard across the MX-5 range, as is Bluetooth connectivity and the broad spectrum of AM/FM/DAB+ radio. Sound comes via a six-speaker audio system in this base model. Those higher up the MX-5 range ladder score a meatier nine-speaker Bose set-up.
As befitting the MX-5’s unashamed analogue driver’s focus, the instrument binnacle features traditional dials with only a small digital screen offering limited driving data. It’s all you need.
Is the Mazda MX-5 a safe car?
This ND generation earned a five-star ANCAP safety rating way back in 2016. That carries over to this updated model. For now. Under ANCAP’s new stricter criteria, ratings expire after a set period, and the MX-5’s is due to do exactly that at the end of the year, leaving its status as ‘untested’.
Mazda has, though, thrown more safety technology into this 2022 update, adding reverse autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, a driver attention monitor and rear parking sensors. They join the incumbent suite of safety tech including autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The airbag count runs to four.
How much does the Mazda MX-5 cost to maintain?
The Mazda MX-5 has endured through four generations for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is the pure enjoyment of driving the sporty little roadster. The other is value.
A quick scan of current makes and models available in Australia reveals the MX-5 as the unicorn it is.
At this entry-level spec, the MX-5’s circa $42K drive-away pricing is unmatched. Only the Mini Cooper Classic offers soft-top motoring at a sub-$50K pricepoint. But, its $48,466 drive-away entry into convertible motoring is a fair whack over the MX-5’s.
And a Subaru BRZ with a manual gearbox, at around $44K drive-away, is closer to the MX-5 in terms of pricing but loses out on the joy of drop-top motoring.
Mazda says the MX-5 needs scheduled maintenance every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. The first three years/30,000km of scheduled servicing will set you back an estimated $1281, while five years/50,000km ask for $2274.
The MX-5 is covered by Mazda’s standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which also includes five years of roadside assistance.
Comprehensive insurance runs to $1112 per annum on a comparative quote from one of Australia’s leading insurers and based on a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW – insurance estimates may vary based on your location and driving history.
|At a glance||2022 Mazda MX-5 Roadster|
|Warranty||Five years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 10,000km|
|Servicing costs||$1281 (3 years)
$2274 (5 years)
Is the Mazda MX-5 fuel-efficient?
Fuel consumption runs to a claimed 6.8L/100km. Our week with the little roadster, taking in general day-to-day driving, some highway running and more than a few bouts of, let’s call it eager, driving saw an indicated 8.2L/100km.
That’s actually not too shabby considering how enthusiastic one can be behind the wheel with a rev-happy engine begging to be exploited. The MX-5 takes 95-octane premium petrol as a minimum. The fuel tank measures in at 45L.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.8L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||8.2L/100km|
|Fuel type||95-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||45L|
What is the Mazda MX-5 like to drive?
It’s hard not to be taken in, difficult to not swoon with a giddy delight, as you pile on engine revs before depressing the clutch and effecting a simple analogue gear change with a click and a snick so satisfying that tears of joy almost well in the corners of your eyes.
There’s something simply satisfying about driving a Mazda MX-5. It’s a throwback to simpler times, when mechanical and not electronic gadgetry underpinned engineering, and driving meant more than just pointing the car in the right direction and pressing go. Yes, Mazda has kept the MX-5 fresh with electronic wizardry over the years, but the fundamental principle of a ‘driver’s car’ remains.
The entry-level Roadster is now powered by the same meatier 2.0-litre four-cylinder non-turbo engine powering the rest of the MX-5 range. It makes 135kW at 7000rpm and 205Nm at 4000rpm. A six-speed manual transmission sends drive to the rear wheels.
This update sees the addition of what Mazda is calling Kinetic Posture Control (KPC), a system intended to improve handling and grip, not that the older MX-5 was found wanting in those areas.
It is, in short, a delight to drive. Agile and light (the MX-5 manual tips the scales at a positively svelte 1058kg), there’s a joy to be found behind the wheel, even at sedate and legal speeds.
The 2.0-litre inline four is happy to be given a long lead, eagerly piling on revs to provide acceleration that, while not brutally fast, is quick enough to propel you out of corners with a grin and a whoop of joy.
The manual ’box in the MX-5 is satisfyingly tactile, with an easy throw through the gate. The clutch action, too, is not too onerous on lower leg strength. It’s as easy to drive around town in traffic as it is to menace some corners in the country with joie de vivre.
There are compromises out on the highway at 110km/h, though. While the fitment of the soft-top is excellent, there will always be an element of wind and road noise snaking their way into the cabin. But that’s the price of entry into affordable convertible motoring.
That doesn’t matter, though, once you find the perfect stretch of winding road, the perfect canvas on which to exploit the MX-5’s potential.
For it is here, when it’s just you staring along that swooping bonnet at the road ahead, the wind in your hair and the rising engine note in your ears, that you realise not all cars are created equal. Some cars exist solely for the joy of driving. The Mazda MX-5 is one of them.
|Key details||2022 Mazda MX-5 Roadster|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol|
|Power||135kW @ 7000rpm|
|Torque||205Nm @ 4000rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||128kW/t|
|Spare tyre type||Tyre repair kit|
Should I buy a Mazda MX-5?
Mazda should be applauded for keeping things simple and remaining true to the philosophy of the MX-5 we first came to know and love in 1989.
It may have grown in size in the intervening 33 years, along with electronic gadgetry designed to keep it modern, fresh and safe, but at its beating heart, the Mazda MX-5 remains what it has always been – an affordable open-top sports car that is at its best when allowed to run off the leash.
Fun and engaging to drive, with enough performance to satisfy most, the 2022 Mazda MX-5 plays in an ever-diminishing arena. It’s analogue motoring at its finest, and a reminder that driving for the simple thrill of it is its own reward.