Roadster of the Year 2015: Mazda MX-5

The Mazda MX-5 is the 2015 Auto Express Roadster of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche Boxster commended

Hot off the boat from Japan, the Mazda MX-5 has romped its way to victory as our Best Roadster of 2015 thanks to a new philosophy that takes the iconic two-seat convertible back to basics.

Mazda’s SkyActiv approach focuses on lightweight engineering, which means the new car actually weighs 100kg less than its predecessor and only 50kg more than the original.

All that’s needed to whisk the MX-5 along at an impressive pace is a 129bhp 1.5-litre engine – no turbo trickery here, just a revvy, naturally aspirated petrol unit with crisp throttle response and a sweet six-speed manual box. There’s more power from a 158bhp 2.0-litre engine if you want it, but it’s not vital.

The lack of weight makes for engaging and agile handling. With bags of grip, the car sticks to the road tenaciously in bends, while the light, quick steering and hi-tech underpinnings mean you’ll carve through corners with a smile. This balance of advanced construction and an old-school rear-wheel-drive approach makes the MX-5 a delight.

To further keep weight down, the roof folds manually in a single, one-handed action, plus the car does without sport modes, adaptive dampers and active exhausts.

It’s the same with the interior: although the driver-focused layout is comfortable and boasts plenty of kit, it’s simplistic and puts the focus firmly on fun. Savings in these areas also keep the price down to just £18,495 for the entry-level car, but Mazda hasn’t scrimped where it shouldn’t.

Safety is strong thanks to that stiff bodyshell, and with the car’s rakish, aerodynamic profile and upto 47.1mpg on offer, you can have your cake and eat it. This is the MX-5 that finally shakes off the hairdresser connotations of old.

Our choice

MX-5 1.5 SkyActiv-G SE L (£19,245)

With Bluetooth, climate control and a seven-inch touchscreen as standard, the SE L model is the sweet spot in the MX-5 range, balancing cost with kit perfectly. You have to work the 1.5 engine, but the Mazda is so light it’s the most rewarding model.

Commended

Jaguar F-Type

BY adding four-wheel drive and manual options to the range, Jag has improved the appeal of its stunning F-Type even further. With its supercharged V6 and V8 engines, the soft-top boasts serious muscle and a lovable character on top of its huge performance. A cramped 196-litre boot is the only drawback, but the thrills on the road make you forget all about it.

Porsche Boxster S PDK panning

Porsche Boxster S

Stunning looks, a sonorous engine and assured, agile handling mean the Boxster is a top roadster. Porsche has condensed its sports car know-how into a slick and manageable feelgood package that’s a joy to drive and own. With two luggage compartments totalling 280 litres of space, it’s even reasonably practical for a two-seater.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2015 

For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2015, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now...  

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