OK, so you’re going to buy a Mk4 (ND) MX5. Here’s our essential checklist of things you need to know before laying down the cash.
The Mk4 Buyers Guide
- The obvious difference with the Mk4 MX5 is that it’s still on sale and available new from Mazda dealers. Given it only launched in 2015, and most will be within the mainstream dealer network/nearly-new market, it’s a different proposition to buying an older MX5 but still part of the family. And very much keeps the spirit alive.
- Which version? The Mk4 MX5 has been updated with revised engines, extra power and new trim levels but the fundamental range is based around a choice of 1.5 or 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engines and soft-top convertible or RF folding hardtop models. Six-speed manual gearboxes are standard on all models, Torsen limited-slip differentials fitted to all 2.0-litre versions. A six-speed automatic is available too but only offered on the 2.0-litre RF. Notable for its sharper-edged, new-school styling, the Mk4 harks back to the Mk1 and is smaller, lighter, faster and more efficient than the Mk3 under Mazda’s Kodo design and Skyactiv engineering programmes. The Skyactiv-G engine range is also new for this generation.
- Pre-facelift Mk4 MX5s have 131hp in the 1.5 and 160hp in the 2.0 and were available in SE (1.5 only), SE-L, SE-L Nav, Sport and Sport-Nav variants. 1.5s come as standard with 16-inch wheels while 2.0 models have 17-inch wheels, front strut brace and Torsen limited-slip differential. All have LED headlights, SE-L upward gaining LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), climate control, DAB, Bluetooth, cruise control and a 7-inch touchscreen. Sport adds rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and Bose Surround-Sound, 2.0-litre Sport models also getting Bilstein dampers. Nav versions have the factory navigation system fully integrated into the Multimedia Commander and touchscreen. The signature Soul Red metallic paint has proven a popular choice.
- The Mk4 MX5 RF (Retractable Fastback) is the successor to the Mk3 RC (Roadster Coupe) and was added to the range in 2017, boasting a much more radical look with a new paint shade called Machine Grey, fixed rear buttresses and distinctive coupe-style look with the roof raised. Lowered it’s more targa than full roadster, making a clearer distinction between the soft-top convertible and the folding hardtop version than there ever was with the Mk3. The RF is a fraction taller than the roadster and – impressively – is only 45kg heavier.
- MX5 Mk4 facelift: On sale from September 2018, Mazda updated the Mk4 MX5 with expanded equipment, including a full suite of Mazda’s i-Activesense safety features and the addition of telescopic reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The range also had a shake-up with the addition of a new GT Sport Nav model at the top of the pile. More significant were the mechanical changes, both engines benefitting from improved internals and better CO2 and emissions, the 1.5 getting a marginal power increase to 132hp. The most dramatic improvement was in the 2.0-litre model, power going from 160hp to 184hp thanks to new cams, injectors, induction system and a raised rev limit. As a result as well as being revvier and faster to respond the post-facelift 2.0-litre is a whole 0.8 seconds faster 0-62mph, the RF and automatic around half a second quicker by the same measure.
- As with earlier MX5s Mazda has offered various special editions along the way and for the used buyer they can represent a good deal thanks to their attractive additional features. Expect more of these to drop as the Mk4 remains on sale.
- MX5 Sport Recaro: Based on the 2.0-litre Sport Nav convertible and released in 2015, the Sport Recaro combines a generous standard spec with desirable Alcantara-trimmed Recaro seats and a limited run of just 600 models.
- MX5 Arctic: Sold from February 2017, the MX5 Arctic was based on the 1.5 SE-L Nav and limited to just 400 cars, revisiting a similarly named special edition version of the Mk3 MX5. Over and above the standard spec the MX5 Arctic includes distinctive metallic blue paint set against a silver windscreen surround, mirrors and rollover hoops and has a numbered plaque on the dashboard.
- MX5 Z-Sport: Another blast from the past, the 2018 Mk4 Z-Sport revived a limited-edition badge first applied to the 2007 Mk3 MX5. Limited to 300 cars and based on the 2.0 Sport Nav the Z-Sport combines the standard car’s Bilstein suspension, strut brace and limited-slip differential with some desirable extras. These included black 17-inch BBS wheels, no-cost Machine Grey paint, a red hood and a numbered plaque.
- MX5 RF Sport Black: Released just after the Z-Sport in spring 2018, the Sport Black stands out from regular RFs thanks to its Eternal Blue Mica paint and contrasting black rear lip spoiler and mirrors set against smart-looking, gunmetal coloured 17-inch wheels. Based on the 2.0 SE-L Nav, the Sport Black includes leather seats, rear parking sensors and automatic headlights among the standard equipment.
- MX5 30th Anniversary Edition: Revealed at the 2019 Chicago show to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Mk1’s debut at the same event, the 30th Anniversary Edition stands out thanks to its Racing Orange paint. There’s more to this special edition than most though, the spec including forged Rays wheels, Recaro seats and – for the first time on a UK MX5 – uprated Brembo brakes. This, combined with the upgraded 184hp 2.0-litre engine and standard fit Bilstein suspension, strut brace and limited-slip differential should ensure lasting appeal, the UK market getting 400 convertibles and 200 RFs out of a worldwide production run of 3,000 cars.
The Mk4/ND ‘Buyer’s Checklist’
Found your perfect Mk4 MX5? Here are the points to bear in mind before handing over the cash.
- The usual MoT checks that apply to older MX5s won’t offer as much information, given the age of the Mk4 and how long they’ve been in circulation. Given most will be offered by mainstream dealers and official Mazda operations it’ll be a different buying process more akin to buying a new or nearly-new car so check for outstanding finance before committing.
- Many Mk4s now entering the food chain will have come from PCP or similar and ‘owners’ may not have lavished as much care and attention on them, having adopted a ‘rental’ mindset. Servicing and suchlike should be up to date and on the button but look carefully for signs of neglect and quick ‘patch up’ repairs for stone chipping, kerb damage, car park dings and minor scuffs.
- 5 or 2.0? The extra grunt of the 2.0 has obvious appeal, especially following the 2018 facelift and more decisive performance advantage it offers over the 1.5. Keen drivers, or those looking for a basis for further tuning, will also appreciate the bigger wheels, standard Torsen limited-slip differential and strut brace and, on Sport models, the firmer Bilstein dampers. For true MX5 purists the 1.5 is not to be overlooked though. It’s a tad lighter, the engine revs a little more keenly, it rides better on its 16-inch wheels and the power-to-weight ratio is nearly identical to that of the original 1.8 Mk1. For those enthusiasts who appreciate the less-is-more MX5 ethos the 1.5 is well worthy of consideration if you want to enjoy the Jinba Ittai spirit in its purest form.
- Convertible or RF? RFs are newer in the market and add the option of an automatic gearbox if you want it. In driving style they’re more or less the same as the convertible, albeit a little bit heavier. Where the Mk3 roadster and RC folding hardtop were near identical in spirit Mazda has deliberately made the Mk4 soft-top and RF more distinct – there’s no bad choice so it’ll come down to which you prefer the look of and which suits your needs better.
- Before looking at cars think ahead to how you’re intending to use it, whether you’ll be tuning or tracking it or whether you want a more all-round road car. Pick the spec options that matter to you and hold out for the trim and colour you want – there are plenty to choose from and it’s a buyer’s market.
- Special edition cars are a good deal in the used market, with much of the original price premium absorbed into the cost. With the exception of the 30th Anniversary Edition don’t bank on limited-edition status meaning improved residuals; rather consider the appeal of the unique colours and extra features.
The Mazda MX5 Mk4/ND buyer’s checklist – at a glance
- Consider the various models, special editions and specifications before browsing classifieds and have a clear idea of your needs
- Do you want a car to enjoy as it is or are you looking for a car to modify and upgrade for improved performance? If it’s the former consider a 1.5-litre version, if it’s the latter you need a 2.0
- Convertible or RF? The soft-top Mk4 is slightly lighter and more in keeping with MX5 traditions; the RF offers a more refined ownership experience with few compromises in performance
- Most cars in the market will be offered by Mazda or independent dealerships and accordingly well-presented for sale – look closely for signs of cheap and hasty repairs for stone chips, kerb damage, parking dings and other everyday damage
- Are you going to tune or upgrade the car? A 2.0-litre car out of warranty is the best foundation
- Ensure wear to interior trim, pedal rubbers, seat upholstery, tyres, brakes and other components tally with the declared mileage
- Carry out an HPI check to ensure there is no outstanding finance owed on the car you intend to buy
Already bought a Mk4? It miight be worth a quick look at the top 5 things we recommend you buy for your new purchase
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