2019 Mazda MX-5 Launch Review

2019 Mazda MX-5 update Road Test, Review

2019 Mazda MX-5 front

A shade under 30 years ago, Mazda released the first MX-5 and it instantly became a cult classic.

Now, Mazda has just rolled out the second Mazda MX-5 update this year, and it brings some of the features we’ve been wanting for oh so long.


The bold bodywork looks like it was carved from a solid block of sexiness. Two body styles continue, the soft top, and RF (retractable fastback).

Additions depend on the trim level you choose but highlights include:

  • LED adaptive headlights
  • New wheels (16” on roadster, 17” on RF)
  • Reverse camera (concealed in the rear bumper where cross-traffic detect radar is also housed)

Only a keen eye will see much of a difference in those updates, but the tech updates bring the Mazda MX-5 into the current generation of motoring.

Smart entry on the upper models adds rubber buttons on the door handles so the key need never leave your pocket.

The soft top is manual. It locks in to place with a single latch. Once unlocked it drops the windows around 10cm.

It can then be pushed back and locked into the down position in a single graceful move.

Another button unlocks the roof allowing it to jump 15cms where it can be grabbed and pulled forward. There is no need to stop completely.

The hard top takes 13 seconds, and also lowers the windows while operating. I prefer the soft top and all the involvement it brings to a day’s motoring.

2019 Mazda MX-5 dashboardInterior

The cabin design is simple and carries the design language of other Mazdas.

It is a shame they haven’t found a few more places to fit your bits and bobs though. You find yourself having to leave your bag in the boot so as not to cramp your passenger.

Subtle touches include the addition 30mm of reach adjustment to the steering wheel. For the last 30 years, you have only had height adjustment.

The touch LCD will gain Apple CarPlay within the month. Carplay and Android Auto can be retro-fitted for a small fee.

The cup holders are now easier to use, and more rigid. Previously, they got quite a wobble during brisk driving.

There are no bottle holders though, nor are there door pockets.

Seat reclining has been improved too.

You can option a rather tasty Nappa Leather seat in the RF GT. All GTs get seat heating which you’ll appreciate in a brisk day.


  • Auto lights and wipers
  • LED adaptive lights
  • Reverse camera
  • AEB front and rear (rear depending on model)
  • Lane warning
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Digital Radio

The list is far too long to go in to here, but the reverse camera is the most welcome addition.

Speed sign recognition is handy but we often found a line of dashes instead of a speed. It seemed a bit glitchy – there are times when the touch screen doesn’t respond.

Even on the coldest day, heating keeps the cabin toasty even with the roof down. Vents bathe passenger in wasp-breaths of gently heated air.

2019 Mazda MX-5 rearDrive and Engine

When you lower yourself into an MX-5, you step back in time.

You’re transported back to the 60’s British sports cars with their raspy engine notes, rear wheel drive, and a willing free-spinning engine.

Sure, we now have nifty gadgets like power steering, power windows, and air conditioning, but with a roof down you are directly connected to the environment.

Both engines have had a tweak. The 1.5L has had an accordingly small power increase of just 1kw and 2Nm, to 97kW/152Nm while the 2.0L received much more love with power up a huge 27kW to 135kW with torque of 205Nm.

Maximum engine speed increases from 6,500 to 7,500rpm before the rev limiter starts to spoil your fun and a new fly wheel has changed the engine sound too.

There is a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Give the auto a miss though and get involved in your drive!

Steering and ride got a once over earlier in the year and remain sharp and precise.

Our drive in and around the Gold Coast was how this little drop top was meant to be used.

We only drove the 2.0L versions, and this is also my favourite of the two.

Ride is on the firm side, but never to the point of discomfort. Cornering in a rear-wheel-drive has its own unique feel.

Even in the soft top for a weekend away, there was a ton of room in the boot for a couple of bags, some pillows, and a bunch of groceries.

It brings back the old days of motoring when a drive was an event. It was something to be enjoyed for the sake of it, not merely a way to get from one place to another.

2019 Mazda MX-5 consoleSafety

2019 Mazda MX-5 gets 5-stars from the 2016 ANCAP tests. With the addition of AEB, you could expect the same rating were it to be retested today.

  • Emergency braking forward and in reverse
  • Rear camera
  • Parking sensors
  • Driver attention alert
  • Traffic sign recognition

Good Bits

  • Sensational looks
  • Nippy 2.0L engine
  • Choice of soft top or retractable hard top

Not So Good Bits

  • Cabin is a tight fit
  • Cup holders get in the way when in use
  • Only one small cubby hole

2019 Mazda MX-5 sideSummary

The Mazda MX-5 is a joy from the first time you lay eyes on it. You’ll hear talk about it not being practical, but that is a load of cobblers.

It is 100% fit for purpose in a way that few cars are – designed for a couple to enjoy themselves. It wasn’t meant to cart a family, or kids, or dogs, or a load from Bunnings.

The chassis is tight, and the 2.0L is leggy and responsive. The manual is an absolute joy.

The addition of AEB and lane departure alert along with the upcoming Apple CarPlay/Android Auto upgrade have brought the Mazda up to date.

Facts and Figures: 2019 Mazda MX-5

  • Engine: 2.0L four-cylinder petrol producing 135kW/205Nm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Warranty: 5 years/ unlimited km
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: Japan
  • Price: from $36,190

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