Roadster of the Year 2018: Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is the 2018 Auto Express Roadster of the Year, with the McLaren 570S Spider and Porsche 718 Boxster commended
The Mazda MX-5 retains its crown as the best roadster you can buy. The soft-top and the latest ‘Retractable Fastback’ RF version that joined the range last year have their own merits, so there’s plenty of choice. Both cars are brilliant.
With striking styling, the MX-5 looks distinctive, and the RF’s supercar-like design adds another dimension. No matter which version you pick, open the MX-5 up and it delivers an addictive sense of fun, with the wind in your hair and a fantastic powertrain and chassis beneath you.
Mazda has avoided turbocharging, so the 1.5 and 2.0-litre petrol engines in the MX-5 are deliciously responsive and fun to rev. They’re linked to a sweet six-speed manual box that’s a joy to use – so much so that it’s often considered a benchmark for great gearshift feel in any class of car. Driving the Mazda is a delight at any time, no matter how short the journey.
Lightweight construction means that the relatively low-powered engines feel very sprightly, while it also boosts efficiency and handling agility.
The suspension allows some roll in corners, but it’s engaging rather than unnerving and doesn’t take away from the fun, because the sweet steering and rear-wheel-drive handling mean the Mazda roadster is fantastic on a fast road and doesn’t feel uncomfortable on a bumpy one. As a result of all that, we prefer it as an overall package to its sister car, the Fiat 124 Spider.
The RF is a little more expensive than the still-brilliant-value soft-top, and both offer just as much in the way of thrills. Not much comes close to the MX-5 for pure driving fun at this price, let alone something that’s genuinely usable every day.
Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE-L Nav (£20,695)
We reckon the 1.5-litre is a sweeter engine, because it revs with vigour and adds just a little extra sense of fun to driving the MX-5. It’s also cheaper to buy than the 2.0 litre. Combined with the superb six-speed manual box, it means you can exploit the MX-5’s brilliance without fear of going too fast.
McLaren 570S Spider
If you’ve got a huge budget to spend on your roadster, you can’t go wrong with the McLaren 570S Spider. It’s fantastic to drive, with superb steering, a roaring V8 engine and a chassis that absorbs bumps well without compromising the McLaren’s sharp handling.
Porsche 718 Boxster
The Boxster splits the MX-5 and 570S on price, but also on performance. It’s the mid-engined handling that really sets our pulses racing – and even if the new turbocharged four-cylinder engines aren’t as pleasing as the flat-sixes that powered Boxsters of old, they deliver astounding performance.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2018
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- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK today? The 2018 New Car Awards have the answer...
- 2Car of the YearThe Auto Express Car of the Year for 2018 is the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace
- 3City Car of the YearThe Volkswagen up! is the 2018 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
- 4Supermini of the YearThe Ford Fiesta is the 2018 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the MINI 5-door and SEAT Ibiza commended
- 5Convertible of the YearThe MINI Convertible is the 2018 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended
- 6Compact Family Car of the YearThe Volkswagen Golf is the 2018 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Mercedes A-Class and Skoda Octavia commended
- 7Family Car of the YearThe Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the 2018 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Toyota Prius commended
- 8Compact Executive Car of the YearThe Mercedes C-Class is the 2018 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE commended
- 9Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 5 Series is the 2018 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S90 commended
- 10Estate Car of the YearThe Skoda Octavia Estate is the 2018 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Volvo V60 commended
- 11Small SUV of the YearThe Citroen C3 Aircross is the 2018 Auto Express Small SUV of the Year, with the SEAT Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc commended
- 12Mid-size SUV of the YearSkoda is on a roll, and the Karoq is proof that the Czech brand knows exactly what it’s doing in the field of family SUVs.
- 13Large SUV of the YearThe Skoda Kodiaq is the 2018 Auto Express Large SUV of the Year, with the Peugeot 5008 and SsangYong Rexton commended
- 14Small Premium SUV of the YearThe Volvo XC40 is the 2018 Auto Express Small Premium SUV of the Year, with the BMW X1 and MINI Countryman commended
- 15Mid-size Premium SUV of the YearThe BMW X3 is the 2018 Auto Express Premium Mid-size SUV of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60 commended