This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Mazda MX-5 review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
  • Hard wearing, minimalist interior
  • Sometimes features bright trim, but generally grey throughout
  • Shrugs off condensation and rain

The well finished interior may not be the most stylish around but it’s neatly laid out with easy to use controls. There are no soft touch plastics and it feels functional rather than inviting, however it’s clear that quality is good.

Two cupholders in the centre console live under a sliding cover, but the doors also have cleverly integrated cup holders near the handles. You can tell the MX-5 NC was designed for America. The centre cupholders can be lifted out to create a long, rectangular storage box if required.

An attractive three-spoke steering wheel houses inbuilt controls for the stereo while the high-mounted gear lever adds to the sporty feel.

You’ll soon come to appreciate how low down you are when other traffic towers over you, but otherwise the view out is very good and the MX-5 is easy to manoeuvre.

Being a sports car, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Mazda MX-5 comfort levels may not be the highest. Taller drivers may find it a little cramped, plus there’s no reach adjustment in the steering – but the seats offer good support.

The folding hard top improves refinement further and as you’d expect makes the cabin even quieter on the move. The RC also comes with a reprofiled wind deflector so it’s less turbulent with the roof down.

Revised RC models from April 2009 have better cabin insulation, reducing road noise on the move.

How comfortable is the MX-5 Mk3 (NC)?

  • Wider cabin, bigger footwells
  • Windscreen frame is more substantial
  • So are the doors – and the padding

A lot of the MX-5’s appeal came from the minimalist interior, and the Mk3 retains a lot of that feel but it’s far from the basic, single-board-and-vinyl door trims of the Mk 1; this means it’s a lot more comfortable.

There are full-length armrests on the doors with solid pull handles, wide, not overly bolstered seats, and spacious footwells for the size of car. Because the NC shares a lot of engineering with the larger, four-seater Mazda RX-8, it doesn’t just feel like a bigger car than the previous generations – it is.

Taller drivers should have no problem fitting in the MX-5, though the short length of the car limits overall seat travel and the seat itself is only adjustable for backrest tilt and height, no seat tilt and the backrest is on a lever (which means quick access to the storage boxes behind, but it doesn’t return to the same position automatically).

Roof down or up, the Mazda MX-5 Mk3 is considerably more comfortable for longer drives than the previous models. With the fabric roof up, the cabin is well-insulated from wind, but it can amplify road noise – lower it and it’s still possible to have a civilised conversation with buffeting kept to a minimum up to motorway speeds.

MX-5 interior checks

Check the side bolsters of the seats, and the heated function where fitted. Run the fan at all speeds, and lower and raise the windows listening for any unusual grinding or scraping sounds.

Move the seats forward and check the space behind, particularly the carpet near the runners and seatbelt, for damp and mustiness. Long-term damp here will cause rust near crucial MOT failure points. The seatbelts can be slow to retract, often fixable with cleaning but another potential MOT issue.

Some damp can be accepted in winter – the condensation on the rear window should draing out – but if the carpets are completely saturated the car’s not had time to dry out and isn’t draining properly.

Check that the heated rear window works, and if air con is fitted run that through as well. Finally, if you’re happy with everything else, take a look at the radio and CD mechanism, particularly on cars with the in-dash changer. It can be upgraded to a double-din Apple CarPlay compatible unit these days for around £300, so it’s worth looking for a discount if there are faults with the fitted unit.

Ride on the MX-5 Sport is supple, yet controlled. As the cars age you can feel more weight transfer on the rear, but even on a 100,000 mile example the knocks and rattles you might expect on a car that age are generally absent. If the ride is overly harsh, bouncy or wallowy then check to see if the car’s been fitted with aftermarket suspension.