A slick five-speed gearbox was standard on both, but track down a 2.0-litre in Sport trim and it will have a six-speed ’box, as well as 17in alloy wheels, stiffer suspension, traction control and heated leather seats.
Unlike the previous MX-5s, this model was available in two different guises: the traditional soft-top roadster and a Coupé Cabriolet, which came with an electrically powered folding hard top that gave the refinement of a coupé but allowed you to get the wind in your hair at the touch of a button.
For most, the 1.8-litre model will be fast enough out on the open road, and slightly cheaper to run. However, if you want to make the most of the MX-5’s agile chassis, the 2.0-litre is a blast.
But straight-line speed isn’t what the MX-5 is about. What you will get for your modest outlay is what remains one of the best-driving cars available, regardless of budget. Both hard- and soft-top models are wonderfully agile. The steering is precise, while the chassis offers fluid handling with bags of grip. The ride is comfortable and controlled over broken surfaces, too, especially in the coupé, which has slightly softer suspension settings.
The range was facelifted in 2009, when it gained a revvier 2.0-litre engine and tweaks to the suspension, front and rear bumpers, door mirrors and some enhanced cabin trim. SE replaced the old entry-level trim, while Sport Tech superseded Sport.
A further facelift in 2013 brought changes to the front grille and lights and styling changes to the wheels, as well as such luxuries as sat-nav and standard-fit climate control.
Mazda MX-5 2005-2015 common problems
Engine: The engine is mostly bulletproof, but it’s vital to keep the oil level at its correct level, so check that first. Look for oil smoke and listen for any strange noises emanating from the crankshaft. Older, higher-mileage cars can suffer broken wires in the coil-on-plugs. It has a timing chain, not a belt, but the tensioner can fail.
Bodywork: MX-5s do rust, so go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Check under the bonnet, as well as the boot and chassis areas. Make sure the panel gaps all line up and watch for any overspray on bumpers. Check the clips securing the plastic panel beneath the wipers. They can channel water into the interior. Likewise, ensure the hood drain holes are clear and feel for damp carpets. Check the roof operation on early coupés.