Roadster of the Year 2016: Mazda MX-5

The Mazda MX-5 is the 2016 Auto Express Roadster of the Year, with the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 718 Boxster commended

No car embodies the spirit of a roadster better than the Mazda MX-5. With its nimble rear-wheel-drive handling, compact dimensions, an eye-catching price tag and simple fabric top, it delivers wind-in-the-hair thrills to the masses.

The key to the latest MX-5’s success is its focus on fighting the flab. Thanks to Mazda’s SkyActiv technology, this fourth-generation model weighs around 100kg less than its predecessor, meaning it feels faster and more agile than ever.

Best convertible cars on sale

Even the entry-level 129bhp 1.5-litre delivers all the performance you’re likely to need, with the 0-62mph sprint covered in just 8.3 seconds. There’s a larger and more powerful 2.0-litre option, but it doesn’t rev as sweetly or respond as crisply to the throttle as the smaller unit. Whichever engine you choose, you’ll benefit from a six-speed gearbox with a rifle-bolt shift action.

Yet it’s through a series of corners that the Mazda really comes into its own. With its light and precise steering, beautifully balanced chassis and skinny tyres, the MX-5’s engaging handling can be enjoyed and exploited at any speed.

Lowering the fabric roof takes seconds and can be done with one hand. Better still, with the hood stowed, you can get even closer to the action, taking in all the sights and smells, plus the characterful rasp of the engine.

Mazda MX-5 Icon - white front tracking

When you’re not behind the wheel, you can stand back and admire the MX-5’s eye-catching styling. The curves and creases of the bodywork fit perfectly over the mechanicals, giving the car a taut and neatly proportioned stance.

Inside, the mix of slick design and good-quality materials gives the Mazda a surprisingly upmarket appearance. But this premium appeal won’t leave big dents in your wallet. Prices start at just £18,495, while claimed fuel economy is 47.1mpg. Factor in the forthcoming MX-5 RF with its folding hard-top and it’s clear the Mazda’s appeal is only going to grow. 

Our choice

Mazda MX-5 1.5 SE-L Nav (£20,195)

Mazda designed the MX-5 around the 1.5-litre engine, so it’s no surprise to find the keen and revvy unit feels perfectly suited to the fun-loving two-seater. SE-L Nav spec isn’t generously equipped, but it gets all the essentials and is attractively priced.


Jaguar F-Type

The combination of sleek looks, a stirring soundtrack and scintillating performance makes the F-Type one of the most desirable drop-tops money can buy. The raucous V8 is dripping with character, but a cheaper V6 S is nearly as quick and boasts more balanced handling.

Porsche 718 Boxster

Porsche 718 Boxster 2016 - front drift

As with the Cayman, the revised Porsche Boxster now gets sharper looks and a turbocharged flat-four engine in place of the old car’s six-cylinder unit. Increases in power and efficiency offset the less characterful soundtrack, while the mid-engined handling is sublime.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2016 

For complete, in-depth coverage of the New Car Awards 2016, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...  


Used Porsche Boxster review
Porsche Boxster

Used Porsche Boxster review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Porsche Boxster covering the Boxster Mk2 (2005-2012) and Boxster Mk3 (2012-2016)
2 Dec 2020
Best sports cars 2020/2021
Mazda MX-5

Best sports cars 2020/2021

From the McLaren 570S to Mazda MX-5, these are the 10 sports cars that we think are the best on sale
30 Nov 2020
New Porsche Boxster GTS 4.0 PDK review
Porsche Boxster GTS 4.0 PDK
Porsche Boxster

New Porsche Boxster GTS 4.0 PDK review

Can you have more fun for £70,000 than you do in the new Porsche Boxster GTS PDK? We think not.
27 Nov 2020
Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS 4.0 PDK automatic launched
Porsche Boxster

Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS 4.0 PDK automatic launched

Porsche has dampened down the driver involvement for its 718 GTS models with a new seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic gearbox
8 Sep 2020

Most Popular

How to transfer a number plate from one car to another
MINI number plate change
Tips & advice

How to transfer a number plate from one car to another

Need to know how to transfer a number plate between vehicles? Our step-by-step guide breaks it down
22 Nov 2020
Best mini jump starter packs 2020
Best jumper starter packs header
Product group tests

Best mini jump starter packs 2020

Don’t get caught out with a dodgy battery as we test eight of the best jump starter packs
18 Nov 2020
All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch
Renault Kangoo ZE Concept - show pic
Renault Kangoo

All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch

First images of the third-generation Renault Kangoo panel van - which will soon square-up to the new Volkswagen Caddy
12 Nov 2020