This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Mazda MX-5 review.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

Should I buy a used MX-5 (NC) Mk3?

If you want a cheap, fun, open-topped sports car, absolutely. They might not be as pretty as the first two generations (or the current model’s more detailed curves and flourishes) but they drive very well indeed, and are great value for money.

Even if you’re not an enthusiastic driver, they’re light, easy to control and safe in all weathers as long as you have good tyres.

Find a good specialist to look after it, and you’ll have years of two-seater, fresh-air fun at a price that’s low enough to let you run a family car as well, or justify hiring a bigger car when needed.

Which MX-5 is best?

Look for a post-2009 2.0-litre model for the best engine, and it’s hard to argue against the practicality of the folding hard top roof. It looks just as good when folded, is more refined, prevents condensation, needs less maintenance and avoidings having to find hundreds of pounds and lots of space to store a detachable hard top.

But a good, cheap early NC with a long MOT will deliver the budget thrills you might have hoped for from a Mk 1 or 2 MK-5 before the prices went up. Buy before February, sell before October and you won’t lose much at all for a summer of enjoyable drives.