What’s made the Mazda MX-5 so popular?

You won’t find the Mazda MX-5 in the list of most popular cars in Australia, but that’s with good cause. Since 1990, Mazda has been scratching a very particular itch with the MX-5 model. For drivers that want a small and punchy sports car, but don’t wish to pay through the nose for the privilege, the model has delivered affordable thrills for the savvy consumer over nearly three decades, making it world’s top selling two-seater sports car.

The car’s ongoing popularity is largely due to the market. Ten years earlier, MG’s MGB soft-top had revved its last, while other manufacturers had shied away from producing two-seater convertible sports cars in favour of larger, family-friendly models.

Mazda continued to offer this select group of drivers what they wanted, though it didn’t make the company complacent. For al this time, Mazda has been refining the MX-5, and the 2016 model is perhaps the best one yet.

Setting the standard in safety

To perfectly demonstrate this, just look at how Australians seek car safety more than ever. It’s something Mazda has improved upon greatly in 2016, achieving a five-star crash test rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) when previous generations could only reach a four.

“Roadsters present a design challenge for manufacturers in ensuring equivalent levels of occupant protection to conventional cars. Their structures obviously differ so additional engineering elements are needed in order to provide the same levels of structural safety,” explained ANCAP’s CEO, James Goodwin, in June.

“Not only has the MX-5 performed well in each of the impact tests, this is the highest pedestrian protection score we have seen for any vehicle to date.”

It’s a fantastic feat; but let’s get down to it – what else does the Mazda MX-5 offer, and could it be the next car you get on a novated lease?

What sets the Mazda MX-5 apart?

The MX-5 has been awarded 2016 World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year, Mazda proudly proclaims, making the style of the 2016 model certainly worth a word or two.

The softer look of previous iterations of the MX-5 have gone, thanks to a simple redesign of the headlights. Mazda has swapped the car’s trademark oval eyes for sharper, angular, scowling versions. It sounds like a slight change, but it really sets off the rest of the vehicle, and suits the body’s sharp lines to a tee.

Sports car aficionados will likely care most about power, and looking at the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, they probably won’t be disappointed. In a car this petite and light, the MX-5’s 118kW of power and 200Nm of torque is more than enough, while Mazda has focused on making it agile and responsive through the turns.

Even in the more traditional 1.5-litre variant, the simplicity speaks volumes, and it makes for a true driver’s experience.

Any downsides?

There are some quirks, inherent in a two-seater sports car, that you’ll also have to be in the market for. The first is space. If you need room for more than two people and their bags, you might want to take your other car; the MX-5 offers very little luggage room. This is not a car built for the airport run, after all, as much as you’d enjoy the drive there.

The second is the interior. There’s not a lot to write home about inside, with the car’s innards mostly made of plastic – but that’s purposeful. At $34,490 to $41,550, Mazda has refused to skimp under the hood (where it matters most to sports car owners), and have shaved costs on the detailing as a result.

That being said, you’ll know if you’re a future MX-5 owner or not. If you like exciting and responsive driving, with the wind whistling by your ears on a hot, sunny day, this very well may be your next novated lease car.

If not, there are plenty of other options in Australia’s fantastic new car market – just don’t be disappointed when a smiling MX-5 owners nips past you on the way to the dealership!