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In-depth reviews

Mazda MX-5 review – design

Classic sports car proportions, modern Japanese design. Perfect.

Evo rating
Price
from £25,800
  • Sparkling 2-litre engine, fab transmission and great fun at road speeds
  • Chassis’ limitations aren’t hard to find, tight cabin

We’ve had a few years to absorb the current MX-5’s design, and as Mazda continues to produce groundbreaking mainstream models like the latest Mazda 3, the MX-5 has bedded down into a taught, highly considered and elegant little roadster.

Curvaceous yet dramatic corner cutaways, slim LED lighting units and simple, yet bold graphics – these are all highly distinctive elements that make the MX-5 look and feel special on the road, regardless of its price point and relative commonality.It’s not entirely flawless (the car sits a little high, especially on the smaller 15-inch wheels, and it can look a little awkward from some angles), but overall, the MX-5 is an artful expression of modern Japanese design in a very Mazda way.

The RF’s targa-like roof, with those massive buttresses and body-coloured windscreen surround and roof, doesn’t look quite as resolved. The basic proportion set makes the one-piece look of the RF’s body seem tall and narrow, but we imagine a set of horizontal louvres on that rear deck might be an interesting addition; we’ll leave that to you to imagine.

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Still, the RF's hard top does make the MX-5 more refined and you do feel less exposed to onlookers with the roof folded away, despite it offering a broadly similar open-top experience. In typical Mazda fashion, there have been numerous special edition MX-5's since launch, but these do little to change the car's overall design; save for making it pop with new colours and accents. 

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