By rights, there really should have been a fifth generation of this lightweight sports car a few years ago. Yet when the current model is so engaging to drive, decently priced and still looks just-right, why change anything? The unsaid explanation is likely more complicated and involves tricky decisions in terms of cost.

Perhaps we will see the MX-5 turned into an EV when the time comes to launch a successor in, say, 2027? It might even be further off: after all, the current car was first shown in 2014 so the first and likely only facelift took a decade to arrive.

Minor facelift nine years on

For now, the best idea is to celebrate what a great car the ND series model is. In production since 2015, to my eyes this is the most attractive of all. I also reckon Mazda has been enlightened in not altering anything much over the last nine years. In fact, there was a power hike in 2019, so the car has only become ever better.

Weight has hardly changed either – it varies between just 1,100 and 1,200 kilos depending on engine and the level of standard equipment as well as body style. There remain two cars, these being the Retractable Fastback (electrically-folding three-piece roof) and Roadster (manual fabric top).

The recent minor restyle consists of fresh lighting at either end with the DRL now differently shaped within the headlights. Wheel designs are also new but not much else. All of which is a great thing. If only Mazda would produce specific bumper covers for the USA and its side-light requirements. That way the rest of the world’s cars would be devoid of the body-coloured plastic inserts which seem a clumsy, cost-saving thing.

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No automatic: no problem

In Britain, each offers the choice of two engines, a 98 kW (132 PS) 1.5 or a 135 kW 2.0-litre which is redlined at 7,500 rpm. And the standard six-speed gearbox remains surely the loveliest manual transmission in any car. Changing gear is just a delight but it’s frustrating that neither engine has much in the way of spine-tingle appeal. The sound is good, just nothing special even close to the up-change limit.

The more powerful of these non-turbo alternatives also now brings an asymmetric limited-slip differential, firmer suspension including Bilstein dampers plus a strut brace under the bonnet.

Can you notice the difference chucking the MX-5 2.0-litre around? Maybe back to back with the pre-facelift model but honestly, I could not. All that matters is that roadholding remains superb and handling sublime. The lack of any unnecessary mass serves as a lesson to just about every other car.

Interior tweaks

Open either door and initially it seems that nothing has changed since 2015. Something else which is a wonderful thing. There is a larger but still perfectly sized screen which is neither overloaded nor dominating of the dashboard. It’s controlled by a rotary knob on the central console. This is surrounded by a small number of buttons plus a dial for music volume.

The steering wheel also has a few but not too many real buttons, preventing fiddly faffing with haptic or other inferior alternatives. CarPlay and Android Auto feature as do USB C sockets, new for the 2024 model year.

As before there is a large tachometer immediately ahead of the driver with a smaller speedo to your right and a multi-gauge read-out to the left. Each of these three circular-shaped displays has real pointers too. The whole effect is like Mazdas from half a century ago and the days of the first RX models.

Retro meets 2024

Exclusive-Line and Homura model grades include a terrific Bose audio system which includes speakers within the head restraints. And between the tops of the seats, there is still a highly-effective plastic wind-blocker and a surprisingly commodious storage compartment. Which it needs to be as there are still no door bins or even a glovebox.

Curious as to what would be in the space behind the seats and ahead of the boot, I pushed each seat forward. There below the roll-over bars I discovered secret recesses. In a fabric roof car these are a genius idea for hiding valuables. This is also likely to be the reason why you cannot open the boot any way but via a button on the key-fob.

There is a shallow box on the central tunnel which could probably take house keys but not much else. Ahead of it and behind the gear lever though is a slot where a mobile phone fits perfectly. This is just below what are physical HVAC dials and a few associated buttons (e.g. for heated seats in some cars). Mazda still gives you a pair of clip-on raised cupholders too.

Snug seating

Homura specification includes Alcantara- and leather-covered Recaro seats which are fantastically grippy. Lesser trims get either cloth with fake suede or perforated leather. The most expensive variant can also be told from others by its Gun Metallic (dark grey) BBS 17-inch wheels within which red brake callipers can be seen – the front ones have Brembo branding.

Is there anything not to love about the 2024 MX-5? Perhaps what is a thinly-carpeted boot could be bigger (a mere 130 litres VDA for the roadster and 127 for the RF). Yet it feels wrong to even hint at that being a negative when every time you approach a corner the temptation is there to generate yet another childishly wide grin.

Dazzling dynamics

If you want Track mode, there is no need to dig into a screen menu; just hit a button which only the driver can see down by the bonnet-pull. There is a small cluster of them there: another deactivates stop-start. If only the mandated two-chimes each time the speed limit is exceeded (so I am told…) could also be switched off.

This is a happily narrow and less than four metres long rocket with a low centre of gravity. Getting in and out is easy, parking likewise and even a six foot five friend was able to fit. OK, only in the passenger seat. With the roof down. Another surprise: believe it or not the test car averaged 42 miles to the gallon. Amazing.


It really must be an unenviable job for the engineers in Hiroshima tasked with replacing this little convertible. How will they manage to improve on what Mazda launched almost a decade ago and has done the very opposite of ruining with this new round of tweaks? The 2024 MX-5 is a sheer delight and close to being the perfect car.

The 2024 Mazda MX-5 range is priced between GBP28,015 (1.5-litre Prime-Line Roadster) and GBP37,035 (2.0-litre Homura Retractable Fastback). CO2 emissions are 140 or 153 g/km. The as-tested 135 kW (184 PS) 2.0-litre Roadster in top-spec Homura trim costs GBP34,835.